Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy leap Year!

I know there's probably a lot of posts out there celebrating this extra day of the year. But I think I'll add to it anyways. In the midst of these hectic weeks filled with writing papers and conferences about writing papers, and then more writing papers, it's nice to step back for a moment.

If there's one thing I've learned this quarter is that observation is important. I used to think of myself as an observer. People would be surprised when I acknowledged something they did when they didn't think anyone would notice. I was the only person to pick up on the fact that a couple was going to break up that day, and when I wished the girl luck, she was completely shocked and grateful that someone had seen she was feeling nervous.

I've been taking an English class where we have to keep a journal of observations, just a few each week. And in looking for those observations, I was surprised by how much I saw. A tiny bird flying at a branch but being to heavy for it and ended up hanging upside down. A missing brick in a path that was filling up with rain water. I have dozens more, but I won't bore you with them.

I suppose my advice for this extra day is to let yourself be receptive to the things around you. You may be trapped in your mind, but just for today let it free. You'll be surprised how much you see.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Horrific Hour

Well since I had to get up at 6 to register for classes, I might as well post a bit early today. This weekend was quite productive, actually. I stayed at school and worked on WDFC as well as Wings. Did a bit more outlining for each, and wrote a few pages for each.

We're heading into hell week and I have three papers to write, a portfolio to put together, notes to study, research to do etc. It's not going to be pretty. But probably the worst part of the whole thing is that I've run out of reading material. Pleasure reading, I mean. I'm up to my ears in school books, courtesy of two upper level history courses. But I always relax with a good book at the end of the day, and now I don't have one.


The bookstore nearby closed, and the libraries here are strictly for research. So I guess I'll hunker down and reread something on the shelf. But I do wish I could convince myself to just shell out ten bucks for an ebook.

Just two more weeks and then I can relax. Thank goodness.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Recommendation

As a general rule I do not enjoy the novels that are required for class. Some notable exceptions are The Great Gatsby and Catch-22. And I recently found another one, that I would suggest to anyone looking for a calm read that'll make you smile with its simpleness.

A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker follows Emmett every morning as he gets up, makes a fire, and contemplates how the little things in life are the most important, the ones you remember. It's not even 200pages, and could probably be read in a single sitting.

I recommend it because it made me smile. He talks a lot about sensory things, like how we use that gentle touch to find our glasses in the morning but then realize after we put them on that it's dark and we still can't see. Or that satisfactory feeling when you scrub a dish and get a piece of food off and the sponge glides over the whole thing without interruption.

If you get a chance, you should read it. There's a duck named Greta, if that makes it more appealing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy Doesn't Begin to Describe It

In the midst of this exhausting week, there have been a couple of high points. I got an A on a paper I thought I'd failed. I went bowling with friends I hadn't seen for a couple weeks. The sun poked its head out for a while. But the best thing happened this morning when I opened up my laptop to edit the introduction of another paper.

I pulled up Amazon's page, and the names of those people moving to the second round had been announced. And right there between the Gs and the Is was my name. I made it through the first round, and Griffin's Song has a shot at being named the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year!

That is all. I just thought I'd share with you this happy news. Excuse me while I go jump for joy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Too Many Raisins

For the first time ever, I had a bowl of raisin bran and could not possibly eat all the raisins. Which another morning might have been amusing, but since I had to get up earlier than normal, it just annoyed me.

So how does this relate to writing? A while ago I posted about the presence of the word "that" in my book. And then I had a discussion with a friend about the Harry Potter books, and I mentioned that my least favorite was The Order of the Phoenix because I found the writing self-indulgent.

You know those little phrases or even scenes that you just love, and you croon over them and skip them in your edits? Well, they are like the many raisins in my bowl of cereal this morning. Some are good, but a lot is just too many.

To be blunt - cut them out if they don't further the plot. Please, I beg of you.

Now off to class. Only a few more weeks of this quarter and then I can relax.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sunshine Award

Good Morning, Everyone! It's been a wonderful break. I spent the long weekend doing homework and catching up on chores and going bowling. And when I returned to this blog it was to find that I'd been nominated for another award: The Sunshine Award.

Thank you to Yesenia over at Help Me Write A Novel, for nominating me.

Rules: Thank the person who gave you the award. Write a post about it. Answer the questions that come with it. Pass it along to ten other bloggers and let them know they received the award.

Questions:

Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Animal: Horses, definitely horses. I dream about riding them pretty often.
Favorite Number: 7, don't know why.
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: I'm going to go with milk. It's juvenile but I like it.
Facebook or Twitter: FB
My Passions: writing, reading, learning
Getting or Giving Presents: Both I guess. I love the look on peoples' faces when they open their gift.
Favorite Pattern: Plaid. I spent a lot of time around cowgirls, and it's their timeless fashion.
Favorite Day of the Week: Friday because it's the beginning of the weekend and the end of the week
Favorite Flower: Carnations or Lilies

Nominees:

So most of the blogs I follow are of agents or professional writers, so I'm only going to nominate those people like me who are just trying to break into the writing world

Nick Hight: Writing Fire
Monica: Breaking Fantasy
Seabrooke: Seabrooke Nancy

Perhaps I need to find more blogs to follow...

Tomorrow I'll have a post about writing, I promise!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Living Vicariously

I haven't had an especially calm life. Granted, I've been in maybe one or two very dangerous situations, but I've done a lot with my eighteen years. But still, not as much as some. I did gymnastics for 6 years, which certainly ain't for the fainthearted. Then I horseback rode for another 6 in one of the hardest, fastest areas of the sport: gaming. I've been bucked off and landed on my head, shoved into a barbed fence, gotten multiple bone bruises. I've broken my ankle. I've traveled to Europe and been part of a bomb scare.

That is actually me up there!
But I lead a relatively safe existence. And my characters are ways of expressing all things I wish I had the nerve to say and the nerve to do. One of my dreams is to spend at least a month on a ship (not a cruise ship). And hi-ho, I get to write about Sarah's days on a ship. I dream of flying and there you go, Caelyn wants her wings. I enjoy spectacles of water and fire, and what do you know, Garrett and Serafina can control those elements.

I guess what I'm getting at is, my characters are the way I live when I can't do the things I wish I could. I dream about what I'd do, and leave it to them to figure out the details. My characters are little bits and pieces of me. The closest I've ever gotten to flying is parasailing. The only way I can control the elements is by turning on the faucet and building a campfire.

I'm so jealous of my characters.

What about you?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Belated Valentines Post

So... yeah. Yesterday was Valentines Day. A day of recognizing and reciprocating love. If you've got it. I won't whine here about how I've got no one. It's too depressing, and I know it's not true. Valentines Day just makes it feel true.

Instead I'm going to list my favorite book couples, that made me giggly with happiness:

Rose and the White Bear in East
Anna and St. Clair in Anna and the French Kiss
Hallie and Steve in This Matter of Marriage
Harry and Ginny in Harry Potter (I giggled so much when they kissed the first time)
Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games
Aly and Nawat in Trickster's Choise
Tris and Four in Divergent
Millie and Sam in Fools Rush In
Brian and Keeley in Irish Rebel

I know there are more, but I honestly can't remember all the books I've read. There are just too many. And I know a few of those are romance books, but I've chosen only the ones that I've read over and over because I love them so much. Irish Rebel is actually falling apart. Both characters are strong, and I love that so much.

So, when I feel like there's no love for me, I remember my books are always there. As for yesterday, I read Delirium. A book about love being a disease seemed appropriate.

Who are your favorite book couples?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Keeping Away the Stress

So it was a productive weekend, but not for school. My family and I trekked to the coast and I worked in the family store. I can't believe how much I missed it. I haven't worked since summer ended, because I wasn't allowed to work when I went down for Thanksgiving. It took a few passes to get used to the cash register again, and to re-memorize the prices of everything.

For two days I worked an 8 hour shift and then watched movies and ate dinner with my family. It was amazing. I can't wait to work again this summer. I must be one weird teenager.

Anyways, I also worked on Wings some more, writing a couple chapters. I also started reading Delirium, which reminds me a lot of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, where something is surgically "cured" in humans to keep them from causing wars.

All of this served to keep the wolf (in this case stress) from the door. In a little over a week I find out if I made it to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I also get back my midterms later this week. And I have reading to do. And need to start my final paper for one class. And a portfolio for another.

Gah. I'm going to stop talking about it now because it's making me stressed just to think about it.

What do you do to get rid of stress? Does it involve writing or reading?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Slash and Burn

Today's post will deal with that delightful, yet painful and necessary, part of writing. Editing! Justice Brandeis once said: "There is no great writing, only great rewriting." I totally believe this. When I wrote the first draft of Griffin's Song, I was so excited that I'd finished my first book.

I sat down and read it. And it was awful. The story was there, but I wouldn't have finished it if I were someone just picking it up off a shelf. And I know this sentiment isn't only my own. I was lucky enough to attend a book signing by Christopher Paolini, and he told basically the same story. Apparently in the first draft Eragon wasn't named Eragon, it was something like Thomas or Ed or John. Doesn't have quite the same effect, eh?

So how do you go about editing? Myself, I have a harder time editing if I'm not looking at a hard copy of the work. I enjoy taking the red pen and doing evil things to the page. And there's something very satisfying about putting a big X through a passage. I also do tweaks on the computer, but I know there are other ways as well.

I'd like to hear about them. How do you edit? Are you a slash and burn person, like me, or are you more delicate? Do you make a list of things you need to change, or just fix as you go? Let me know!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yippee!

It's Thursday! You know what that means? After a few hours of class, I'm done for the week. Thank goodness. It's been a long week. What with papers and readings and midterms, I feel as if someone took a wiffle ball bat to my brain.

Plans for this weekend: leave school for home. Eat lots of toast because we aren't allowed toasters in the dorm. Lay in bed and write. Do laundry. Pack for work. Go to work on the coast. Enjoy marvelous chocolate and laughter with aunt and uncle. Get haircut since bangs are touching eyelashes and it itches. Procrastinate on homework until it's absolutely necessary.

Sounds pretty solid to me. I may also pick up a copy of Crossed by Allie Condie. For those of you who've read the series, is Crossed any good?

TGIT

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Horror...

of not having time to read for pleasure. A few weeks ago I was plowing through my TBR pile, very happy indeed. Now I'm lucky to have a few minutes before class to sneak in a couple pages. And my kindle gift card ran out so I'm rereading Divergent in anticipation of Insurgent.

That's why I didn't post a weekly page count yesterday. It's just too depressing to look at all the reading I did for school and know I'll have to do it all over again tomorrow.

You can take this many ways
Which brings me to a new topic. Were there ever points in your life where you didn't want to read? And I don't mean for a couple weeks because you were busy, but months or even years between serious binges.

I had one a few years ago and didn't even notice it. I was just starting high school and found a fun group of friends. Then there were the classes which required so much more thinking than the ones in middle school. It wasn't until my junior year when I realized how little I'd been reading. So even though I was taking an AP class and pre-calc (ugh - calculus is so much easier than pre-calc) and chemistry, I began bringing a book to school every day.

And I regained my title as the school bookworm.

Where there periods where you didn't want to read? What caused them?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Story Time, Kiddies!

I was browsing Attack of the Cute, which is my new way of procrastinating, when I came across this delightful picture. Preface: I am a sucker for anything fluffy. Seriously, it's not healthy.

And I remembered an anecdote my father used to tell people. When I was four or five my family was at my cousin's house and they had just gotten a couple of guinea pigs. I was holding one, petting it and cooing like a dove, when I decided it wasn't a guinea pig.

It was a bunny pig.

 And everyone thought it was just adorable. And it reminded me of how kids can get away with a lot when they're young and cute. And how it's fun to read it in books. There's a scene in Anna and the French Kiss where a little boy answers the phone and the guy on the other end is British, and the little boy asks him to, "Speak English." It made me laugh.

So there's my story. I believe I shall be reverting to calling them Bunny Pigs from now on.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Phew

Well, it was exhausting, and my hand cramped and was covered in red ink, but I did it. I edited all of Griffin's Song in two days, and submitted it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. Perhaps the hardest part was formatting it the way they wanted, because it was mind numbing, and it was midnight and I wanted to sleep.

Not my dog, I just thought it fit the day.
Special thanks go out to Seabrooke who sent me her critique so I could further better Griffin's Song. I couldn't ask for a better critique partner.

In other news on that front, I cut almost 11k from it in this go around, making it more reasonable 87k. It was hard, but I made some big changes that helped me take out extraneous scenes.

Today I plan on relaxing, reading, and preparing for my midterm on the Golden Age of Spain. I have to know dates. Woot.

Did anyone else out there submit to the contest?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Catch Up

This week, or really even last week, I didn't post anything about what's going on in my little slice of life. And honestly, it was because I didn't have time. Every blog post that was posted over the past two weeks were written en mass each Sunday so I could spend my mornings just trying to keep up with all my work.
Click here to find out more!

It's midterms already! Where has this year gone? This week marks the halfway point in my freshman year. Crazy, eh? But things have been great, despite the immense workload. There are at least 4 coffee cups in my trashcan, and the dishes are starting to pile up, but I really feel like I accomplished something.

And I'm editing Griffin's Song again! I figured my problem was that I couldn't picture the words while it was on a screen. So I printed it out and have been scribbling away in red ink. It's very satisfying. One of my teachers also encouraged me to submit my novel to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, which apparently a large portion of the Creative Writing staff at my school will be judging! If I want to, I need to speed edit over the next two days.

Can it be done? I really don't know. Now I'm going to go limp down out of my bunk and eat some cheerios. Yesterday I vented my frustration at this week at the gym, leaving me with an aching ankle and hip, and for some reason a sore neck.

Wish me luck! One midterm to go.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What is Too Depressing?

I recently read the first two books in The Uglies Series. This was on recommendation of a friend who has very similar tastes in books. And while I enjoyed both books and will probably read the next two in the series, I found myself rather sad at the end of both.

I won't have any spoilers, so if you plan on reading them, feel free to continue. In my own writing I always wanted to end my book with things unresolved, some things sad that could never be reversed, but with an overall sense of contentment or confidence. Sort of like (forgive me I still love them to death) the Harry Potter books. There was always something terrible on the horizon, but the last few pages would lift you up out of the darkness and show you that there was still reason to continue.

There have only been a few books that I've simply put down because they were depressing me (Immune by Richard Phillips for one), and I always felt bad that I did. When I read though, it's as an escape from everyday life. I don't mind being sad, I have willingly shed tears while trying to escape from real life. But in the end I want to be happier than when I started.

Do you feel this way? Have you ever put down a book that was too depressing? Why?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reader as Deity

Today I pose a small question, and would like to hear from you your opinions on the matter. In what ways and to what extent do you factor in the reader when you are writing?

I am taking a course in which members of the creative writing faculty, as well as local authors, present what they write, why they write, and how they write. The most recent was a poet who said in less kind terms that she didn't give a damn about the reader. And I found myself judging her. Perhaps it is because I want to entertain, not instruct, but it seems to me that anyone who wished to be published had to at some point consider the audience.

Or maybe she just let the publisher deal with that. What do you think?