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Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blast from the Past: Favorite Setting

This weekend I visited my alma mater (though I never did graduate from it...). And while I love the friends I made there, visiting that campus always feels -- odd. I don't miss it, and most of the memories I have of it aren't the greatest. Suffice to say that transferring to a new school wasn't a difficult decision when I made the transition last winter.

Anyway, during the 2.5 hour drive home (another reason I don't enjoy going back. Directions to my old school: drive until you feel the urge to get out of your car and scream OhmygoshSTOPGROWINGCORNOHIOBAAHHHHHH!! Ten minutes past that point, you're there.) I reflected on settings. One of my favorite parts of writing is creating new places, new worlds. Figuring out their atmospheres, their traditions, their cultures. Watching how the characters react to their worlds. And, of course, drawing insanely detailed maps of every little town/village/city/farmland in that world, simply because I can. I think I have control issues.

Of the various settings I've thrust characters into, my favorite place to return to is Yazoo Oxbow's steamboat in Stream Pirate. I love the magic of it, and the people who crew his boat make the entire thing homey and welcoming. If I could choose one place of mine to live, that'd be it.

What about you? Of all your settings, where would you choose to live?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blast from the Past: Favorite Line

One of the things I love about writing is condensing -- getting as much meaning and emotion into as few words as possible. Sometimes it's a pain in the butt (query writing = grr), but once you get it right, a feeling of immense satisfaction sweeps over you. It's one of the emotions that makes it all worthwhile.

Looking back over my old manuscripts/stories, there is one line from one story that always fills me with that shiver of satisfaction. Sure, there are other snippets that make me proud, but reading this one always takes me back to the first moment I wrote it, to that first moment of "Ooo, that's good." It's from my YA romance novel Blind.

Cameron smiled, crossed his arms, and settled in for a long wait. But he never stopped staring at me. Straight into my eyes, never looking away, never blinking for too long. Staring as an aspiring artist stared at the Sistine Chapel. Girls starved themselves to get looked at like that.

With this line, I'd hoped to transmit an instant picture of how Cameron's face looked. That kind of heartbreaking, sweet, dashing look that all girls dream of receiving some day. Do you have a favorite line from your manuscripts? What did you hope it would transmit?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ask and You Shall Receive...

...answers to your questions! Woot woot! Ya'll came up with some good ones!

Via Lisa and Laura:

We want to know how you managed to start writing at such a young age? Didn't you finish your first book when you were 14 or something ridiculous like that? I think at 14 I was overwhelmed at the thought of writing a 2-page paper much less an entire novel.

I did start writing my first novel quite young, at the ripe ol' age of 12 (wow, that was like -- 8 years ago *insert scared, holy-crap-I'm-getting-old face*). The story and characters were so much a part of who I was through preteen and teen years that I can't think of my life back then without thinking of that story. It grew as I grew. I think I started writing so young because it was my way of dealing with the stresses of adolescences; I needed to watch something change and grow as I changed and grew. That story eventually morphed into the trilogy which I now fondly refer to as my "practice novel." I love that story immensely and hope to one day go back and re-do it, but for now it lays peacefully in a Word doc. It will always have a special place in my writing-world.

Ooh, and who would play Alluvial in a movie? We always pictured Natalie Portman.

I always saw Bethany Joy Galeotti in my head, though I do like Natalie Portman as Lu. And just because he's mind-bogglingly drool-worthy, I always saw Philip Winchester as Yazoo. (If you follow one link on this post, follow that one. Mmm Philip. Mmm, mmm, mmmmmmm)

Via Mariah Irvin:

Where do you get book ideas?

One of my dorkiest secrets is that Stream Pirate was inspired by a geology night class. All of the main characters are named after geology terms, and the entire world is based on river systems and sediment deposits. Be cool, stay in school -- you never know what might inspire you!

How much do you like the color pink?

Despite my blog's appearance, pink is actually not one of my favorite colors. I'm much more of a red girl. My desk is red, one of the walls in my room is red. I bleed red. (That was a little gruesome...but it was funny in my head, I promise.)

Who inspires you?

Ooo, toughy. Hm, well, I'm usually inspired by the underdogs, the overcome-immense-obstacle stories. For instance, there's a show on *I forget what channel* called I Shouldn't Be Alive. Talk about inspiring. One couple with their infant son survived 6(ish) days in the frozen northern wilderness without proper clothes, food, water, anything. Seeing stories like makes life look a lot less daunting.

Where is your favorite place to shop?

Funny you should ask, seeing as I just got back from spending all day shopping: New York and Company. I love it because their rewards points program is actually worth it -- I got a coupon for $25 off a $75 purchase. Yeah, baby.

Via Nick:

Did you eat the peep after you took that photo?

Considering that peep is both a pillow and my sister's, no, I did not eat it. Sad.

Via Kat:

And wow, your school doesn't start for two more weeks?

My school is on the quarter system. I <3 the quarter system.

What's your favorite cartoon?

My favorite cartoon movie is Beauty and the Beast. My favorite cartoon TV show is Rugrats. And not the Rugrats: All Growed Up; the original ones. Ah, fond memories...

How many pairs of shoes do you own?

*insert break to count* 21. Though I don't wear most of them. My knee-high leather boots were really just an impulse purchase.

Will you clone Pippa for me?

*insert really creative Photo-Shop picture of two Pippa's* But I don't have Photo-Shop. So I can't clone Pippa. Though, if it's any consolation, she was next to me while I was writing this until she started eating my laptop/hands.

Via KM Walton:

I'd like to know your favorite book. That's a hard one, I know. But, I want you to do it. Only one. And then, why is it your favorite book.

Actually, that's an easy one for me, seeing as I like so few books. My favorite book is The Sweet, Far Thing by Libba Bray. Dear heavens above, that book/trilogy was brilliant. The characters, the story, the world -- just brilliant. TSFT also had by far the best romance scene I've ever read, and it didn't hurt that the love interest had olive skin. And we all know how I feel about olive skin boys. Mmm.

Oh, one more, when you were really little, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an opera singer. For real.

I wanted to be a veterinarian by day, a cheerleader by night. I have since learned that I am inordinately queasy and have no rhythm whatsoever.

Via Natalie:

Minus New Zealand, where else would you want to travel that you've never been before?

England. I love me some British stuffs.

If you could only read one author's books for the rest of your life, who would it be?

Ooo this one is tough. Hmm. I'd have to say Sharon Shinn, only because she's never disappointed me. Second place would be Libba Bray.

Via ChristaCarol:

What feeds your muse?

Anything I'm not allergic to. I can't afford to be picky, and neither can my muse.

If you ate the peep, did you get sick afterward? (wait, maybe we don't want to know that)

I did not eat the peep, though I'm guessing I would've had serious negative reactions to eating a peep that large. Even thinking about it makes me a little unsteady...

Thanks so much, guys! I should do this more often. I like being interviewed. Tis great fun :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Do YOU Want to Know?

I'm running painfully low on blog post ideas. Heck, I'm running painfully low on ideas period. All my WIPs are sitting in their files, half-started, alone and cold and hungry, because I haven't been the least bit motivated to write anything. And school begins in two weeks and three days. Sigh.

In that vein of thought: Q & A time! I've never done one before, and figured it was about time. So, fire away!

Unrelated funny thing:

Conversation with my sister on the ride home from Walmart.

Sister: "I'm SO deep!"
Mom: "Oh, really? How deep are you?"
Sister: "I-- I like poetry!"

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the true definition of deep. Liking poetry. Glad we got that settled.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shiny New Idea and the Midnight Hour

It'd been months since Shiny New Idea ("Sni" for short) had been home. Climbing the last flight of stairs to his floor, he shifted the keys in his hand and reminisced about all the amazing places he had visited. Anticipation Station had been incredible. The Mountains of Unique Settings had offered an amazing photo-op. And the Forest of Character Traits? Breathtaking. But there was always something oddly satisying about coming home after a long journey. The end of a cycle. The completion of a quest. There and back again, as it were.

Sni put his key into the door lock, half expecting it not to open. It had been months, after all; maybe the lock had rusted through? The door opened with a squeal, swinging inward on the apartment he had not graced for many, many moons. With a sigh of bittersweet contentment, he reached for the lightswitch--

But was beaten to it when the lamp beside his revolving armchair clicked on.

Sni's heart dropped straight through his stomach and splattered all over his designer shoes. Oh crap, he thought. She found me.

The armchair swung around, revealing the occupant. Pen in one hand, notebook just within reach on the coffee table, The Author looked up at him and smiled. "Hello, Sni," she cooed, the slide of her words laced with a sick kind of pleasure. "I've been waiting for you."

White Like Ashes

My first dystopian YA novel! Can I get a woot-woot? White Like Ashes is half in planning stages, half in rough draft stages. I'm a multi-tasker, apparently.

After an encounter with a mugger ends with the mugger choosing to run into the night without actually mugging her, 17-year-old Evan Gorecki starts making sense of the letters she received from her father before he died in an asylum. More oddities follow, such as criminals turning themselves in and Evan's mother 180-ing from a disappointed workaholic to an accepting, cookie-baking Stepford mom. Her father's gibberish uncovers a warning as everyone around her falls farther and farther away from themselves, but who can Evan trust when she's not even sure who can trust her?

Monday, August 10, 2009


My first intention with starting a new blog post was to put that picture (<----) in the top left corner. Because it is awesome. Do you think there's some kind of laser eye surgery that could do that to my pupil? But oh oh OH even cooler would be changeable pupils that you could morph depending on your mood. Oh wait, they call those contacts, don't they?

Anyway, this picture got me thinking about expressions, or the different ways people express themselves. Contacts, piercings, tattoos, wild hair color. Or, on the non-physical front, songs, paintings, drawings, writing. The list could go on and on, but it's late and my hand hurts, so I'll keep it short tonight.

Though writing has always been my form of expression, I've always always always wished that I could also sing. Always. I auditioned for musicals in high school and would practice for hours beforehand, hoping the director would leap from her seat and applaud my superb musical abilities. But alas, I was always cast as the character with no solos, and I would watch from the wings as my fellow classmates belted lines of chorus that I would've SO rocked. You know, if I could actually rock. I've since given up on my dream to star in Beauty and the Beast. (Don't feel sorry for me. You haven't heard me sing.)

This mindless rambling spurs an interesting question: what form of expression do you wish you could do? Do you secretly want a tattoo, but fear the pain (*raises hand sheepishly* I have SUCH a low pain tolerance, but I have SUCH a desire to ink myself. Grr, contradicting desires)? Do you wish you could draw as freakishly awesomely as Natalie? Do you have the urge to compose, but all musical instruments boycott you?

Now if you'll excuse me, my puppy is asleep, which means I should be too. Though I have found that no matter how late I keep her up, she still gets up at 6:30. AM. Every morning. It's a good thing she's cute.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What 248 Pieces of Paper Look Like

There's something very satisfying about printing out your manuscript and holding it in your hands. It feels very -- real. Hence the reason books will always be fabulous and those convenient E-books, though popular, will always be second-best. Haha, Kindle. Haha.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why Writing is Like a Puppy, Part 1

(I say "Part 1" because I'm sure I'll find more reasons why writing is like a puppy.)

Reason why Pippa reminds me of writing (and therefore inadvertently makes me feel bad for not taking full advantage of her nap time to write) #1:

I train her. I do. For a good twenty minutes at a time (because, let's face it, puppy attention span = OOOO LOOK SHINY SQUEAKY THINGS). For the past, oh, four weeks we've been working on the same command. "Come." Four weeks. I know she knows what it means; corgis are notorious for being easy to train. She was housebroken the first week we got her, at about 6 weeks old. And when we do train, she gets very excited when I say the word "come" and it registers in her little puppy head. She leaps forward with boundless energy and excitement and sits patiently-- er, she sits at my feet and gives me that "I did good! Give me a treat give me a treat givemeatreat" look. And I, proud mother that I am, give her the treat and congratulate her and she skips away, happy as a, well, puppy.

But then. Oh, then. A few hours later, I stand by the door and she's a few feet from me. I take the leash ever so slowly from its resting place and hold it behind my back. Then, praying, I say "Pippa, come." She looks at me, looks at my hands behind my back, and blinks. If she could talk: "No way in hell, momma. Respectfully."

I sigh. Again. "Pippa, come."

Another blink. This time, she crouches down and growls. "Um, no. Really, no."

This goes on for a few minutes until, as though invisible forces are dragging her across the carpet, she comes to me and I put her leash on. The breeder forgot to mention that Corgi translates as "stubborn" in Welsh.

So, how does this relate to writing? Well a story, at first, will seem to be entirely submissive. Everything flows great. The plot, the characters. Everything works. You're a proud mama (or papa), and life is good.

But then. Oh, then. You wake up one morning to find your characters aren't quite as cooperative as they were the day before. They just don't WANT to go through with that particular plot thread, no matter how many times you reassure them that it really isn't such a bad thing. Sure, you can force them to go through with it (after spending a few hours chasing them around the living room while the neighbors scratch their heads and wonder what has happened to the poor, crazy girl who lives next door-- wait, wrong part of the analogy). But it always works out so much better if you spend a few days waiting for them to WANT to go through with that plot thread in their own way, even if that means changing it up. They learn to overcome whatever you wanted them to overcome, and you get the story to continue.

There is one major difference though that makes stories and characters far more appealing than puppies -- teeth. Ow.

(I had to attach a video, just cuz. She's stubborn, but she's still cute.)