Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Oh, So Very Serious Goals for 2012

1. Watch every episode of New Girl

2. Keep a basil plant alive

3. Drink Port out of pretentious glasses

4. Memorize all the words to "99 Luft Balloons"

5. Iron my clothes

6. Play with my cats more

7. Read Harry Potter again

8. Lose 20 lbs

9. Beat the new Zelda game

10. Write a book (This one is a little more serious than the rest.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Memories

Stockings hung on doorknobs
Early morning hours
Sisters waking sisters
Oldest not so thrilled
Middle twirling in excitement
Youngest giggling madly

Wrapping paper on the bed
CD's, nail polish, lipgloss
Sisters taking turns
Oldest slowly waking
Middle admiring new things
Youngest dreaming of downstairs

Finally 6:30am
Time to wake the parents
Sisters send in the youngest
Oldest puts on slippers
Middle leads me to the door
Youngest jumps on Mom and Dad

Parents grumble, but slowly emerge
After several hits of the snooze button
Sisters sit on the top stair
Oldest is not a morning person
Middle smells the bacon cooking
Youngest wonders if Santa is still there

'All clear' is announced
Santa is gone and has left a bounty
Sisters tumble down to the living room
Oldest getting excited
Middle wants to hand out gifts
Youngest overwhelmed by the sight of the tree

Father reads from Luke
Mother finishes breakfast
Sisters sit in anticipation

Christmas morning has come

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas in the South

For all my pep talking and determination, I've spent the last several days in Christmas preparations. So fun. Shopping and wrapping and one point I caught myself running around the house with my cutie apron on, listing to Christmas jazz, and wondering when on earth I stepped back in time sixty years. I have an upcoming trip up to the in-laws and in an ever and on-going attempt to break the awkward, I decided that Christmas treats would be the way to go this year. So sugar cookies, gingerbread men, and peppermint bark are filling up my kitchen counter tops. 

It's not all prep, though. My husband and I have had the chance here and there to go out and see how South Carolina does Christmas. Especially beautiful was Brookgreen Garden's Night of 1,000 Candles. Here's a few pictures of the moonlit sculptures, Spanish moss, Christmas fairies, and (of course) candles.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Brave or Stupid?

I was watching the Ugly Betty episode where Daniel decides to use all his own resources to keep the company going when they're basically bankrupt. Two other characters called him brave and it got me thinking...those two people might think him brave, but I bet the rest of us are calling him stupid. That seems to be the way of TV shows. Someone chooses something 'crazy' and we all say "Oh, that's a dumb move." Until the end of the show when it all works out and everyone is thrilled and we all say "Well, maybe not so stupid after all. Look how happy they all are!"

I was raised to believe myself brave for doing sensible, responsible things. Hard work and diligence are what move us forward in this life - Even if you don't love what you're doing or where it's taking you. Pushing ahead and being miserable is the 'brave' thing to do.

While I agree that sacrifice is a very beautiful and difficult thing to do, I don't think sacrificing happiness just for the sake of doing so is at all brave. In fact, I think it's very cowardly. It says life as it is, is good enough and can't get any better. It's proof that fear is crippling every choice to the point where risk is not an option.

Acting bravely requires risk. It involves taking a chance that it could all blow up in your face and fail miserably. Usually choosing to act bravely has one person saying "yeah, go, you can do it!" (maybe the one person is you) and all the rest saying "are you sure you want to do this? It sounds kinda stupid."

For me, I think an act of bravery would be to call myself a writer. Not a substitute teacher or a home-maker, but to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that I will get published and start to really work towards that goal. There are those in my life that say with sarcastic undertones "okay. good luck." There are also those that really believe I can do it. As of today: I'm going to choose to ignore the sarcasm, take in and learn from constructive criticism, and listen only to support.

I wonder if already published authors had those same naysayers in their life before being published. People  telling them in not so many words that dreaming of the New York Times Bestsellers list is dreaming too big. Aren't dreams supposed to be big? Isn't that why Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory watches the Nobel Prize awards?

What dreams are you afraid of voicing? Be brave: say it out loud and let the power of those words propel you towards your goal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

(Overdue) Advise from YallFest

A few things (serious and silly) that I picked up from YallFest Panels:

1. Root imaginary worlds in reality. Give your readers some signposts - it helps them connect to it.

2. Setting and landscape are super important, but don't forget about the time frame in which your story takes place. Time of day, time of year, decade, century is all important to keep in mind (even if it doesn't make it into the pages of your book).

3. Really bad writing comes from trying to write yourself: When we try to write ourselves, we're really not. We lack the distance and the result is something too perfect, or too self-debasing.

4. The usefulness of the slush pile is dwindling. Fewer and fewer books are making it out without being shredded. The solution? An Agent. It's becoming increasingly important to find an agent.

5. Finding an agent is like dating - find one who likes you and believes in your work. You don't want to go into business with someone who doesn't 'get' your work.

6. Immature poets imitate. Mature poets steal.

7. Carrie Ryan: The best weapon you can have in a zombie apocalypse is someone who runs slower than you.

8. If you're going back into history, take advantage of it. Go into the bigger cultural world.

9. Make sure your villain believes in what he/she is doing. Even the people you are vilifying need to make sense.

10. If you're stuck moving the plot forward, get out of your protagonist's head and enter your antagonist's.

11. Empathy is important: It's difficult to empathize with losing an entire nation, but very easy to feel for 2 or 3 people.

12. David Levithan: Writers don't peak, we just keep getting better with age (and experience).

13. Kami Garcia's fail-safe: Whenever the book is not working out you just need to add more making out.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The End...of NaNo 2011

I discovered that trying to write an entire novel in a month and travel for a third of the time allotted is just plain crazy. Probably just the first part is crazy on its own, but here's a few lovely things that came out of my NaNo 2011 experience:

1. I wrote over 13,000 words this month! I think that whatever we accomplished deserves to be celebrated.
2. I found joy in writing again.
3. I started to write regularly. Three cheers for creating good habits! (Which may have been interrupted by 11 days of Thanksgiving travel.)
4. I have more defined goals when it comes to writing.
5. I have most of a book outlined. (Which is against NaNo's ideas - editing should start tomorrow morning. I started early and my word count suffered for it.)
6. I'm really excited to keep working on it!

Congratulations to all who participated in NaNo! Whether goals were met or not, I'm proud of us!

Personally, I will be focusing on creating a more sustainable writing schedule in December and January. Perhaps I'll do another word count push in February. Either way, I'll keep the counter going on the blog so you can see my progress. I am one who responds well to external motivation and knowing you're watching the counter will keep me thinking about pushing those numbers up.

How did you do? What did you learn? I'm anxious to hear!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Super Short NaNo Update

I just spent most of the morning organizing the nearly 12,000 words I had so far written, because I was getting lost in them. I have a more traditional outline going now and discovered something both funny and overwhelming. The first pages I wrote on November 1st were literally the MIDDLE of my book. I've been pushing to catch up with them and just when I thought I was getting close, I realized that I have three whole chapters more to write just to catch up to them. Not to mention the string of unfinished and half written chapters before that. The good news: When I catch up, I bet I'm close to 25,000 words. The bad news: That surely won't be today. How are you guys doing?