Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Story!

I finished my first draft of Signal Hill right before the holidays hit (wheeeee!!) and vowed I'd let my brain rest while we traveled and celebrated and otherwise threw our lives into chaos. I sent my draft to a dear critique partner and left my laptop at home. But isn't that always when new ideas hit?

I developed a secondary storyline for Signal Hill and halfway through that draft, realized I was writing two seperate stories: Signsl Hill (speculative fiction) and a very nebulous contemporary story. I had characters and situations, moments within a story but no plot. I saved those scenes and left them drift into the back of my mind. Then I dug them out for a late night scene swap and couldn't let them go again. I almost never read contemp. I need that touch of the fanciful in my writing. I never expected to write a contemp romance.

But there it is, the story I can't let go. I've been hacking out my pitch on my phone between Christmas parties and while curled up beside the fire at my in-laws. I'm dying to get home to my laptop and start hacking it out. The story is coming fast and furious, filling those hours when I'm rocking my wee ones and as I fall asleep at night.

Working title: FALL. I'm pitching it as She's All That or Grease in reverse. Can't wait to share!

Pitch: Bria broke one of the cardinal rules of friendship: she kissed her best friend's brother. Sooo not cool. Besides, weird, artsy girls like her don't fall for jocks like Ben. The self-proclaimed Queen of the Freaks and the school soccer star? Never going to happen. But when a prank gone wrong puts Ben and Bria on clean up duty together, the sparks between them heat up the SoCal fall. Now she has to decide if she can be true enough to herself to step beyond her narrowly defined clique for a boy who might not do the same. Especially if it means losing her best friend.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Bit of Anniversary Romance

Why do I write romance? Why do I swoon over kissing scenes and swap them with my critique partners with glee? Because I snagged my own swoon-inducing love interest and married him nine years ago today. Happy Anniversary to Joe Kaczorowski, the love of my life and the reason I think romance is so much fun.

Sullen teenage dating days
Wedding
Pre-kid vacation
The whole family, now complete






Friday, December 14, 2012

Don't Just Rage Against the Darkness

My children are not yet in school, so when the news broke today of the tragedy in Connecticut, I was able to hug them. But when the time comes, they will attend public schools.

I am a Christian. I was home schooled most of my life. I understand the impulse to protect our children. It's something I wrestle with everyday.

But I believe greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. We have not been given a spirit of fear.

One of my children could be a victim of an unspeakable crime, no matter how or where they are educated. That terrifies me. But one of my children could also be the friend that sways a child on the edge toward the right. The friend that brings someone back from despair or gets help for someone in need. My children can be light.

When the darkness come, as it always has and always will, do not simply rage against it. Become light. Strive to do good. Reach out to the hurting world around you. Do not retreat from the world because it is broken. This is nothing new. Instead, find ways YOU can bind up the broken parts.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make It Work?



You never forget your first. The thrill of discovery. The flush of excitement. Those little nuances that make your heart sing. 

Technically, I'm working on my fourth manuscript, but the first two were never ready to query. But with The River Remembers (or whatever title I'm trying this week), I've been through the trenches. I've done contests and queries. It's been read, re-read, critiqued and edited. I've tweaked and rewritten until I'm not even sure what the plot is any more. Why?

Because I love it.

I love these characters. I see their lives stretching on beyond what I have written. I have so many stories for them to live out. I have playlists of songs for them, folders of pictures for the places they live, the clothes they wear. Even the secondary characters still thrill me.

But my work-in-progress? It doesn't consume me. It doesn't keep me up at night. I don't hear their stories in every song or imagine them drifting through the crowds when I'm out and about. I like it. I like my characters. I like my concept. I like my setting. 

But Cambria isn't Emma. I don't understand her the same way. She's a great main character. She just hasn't wormed her way into my heart the same way. And my villain? He's no Patrick. Oh, Patrick. I doubt I'll ever write another villain I love like him. 

The problem is that I don't want to rewrite my first book every time I try something new. So gone is the heavy, moody darkness. Gone is the fragile-strong heroine and conflicted hero. Gone is the beautiful, alluring antagonist. I spent so long building that world and now I don't know how to escape it.

Which leads me to my question. Is it okay to not LOVE everything you write? Is there a time when you just have to make it work? How do you know the difference between something that just isn't right and when you're just hung up on the past?

I've hit 40,000 words (aiming for 60,000-70,000) again in my work-in-progress and I want that passion I still feel for TRR. I want that obsession. It's not really practical for a mom with a newborn and a toddler, but I miss that compulsion. It's too easy to let a day or two pass without writing. It's too hard to make myself keep writing when I lack inspiration.

I don't really know what the right answers are. I know I'll keep poking away at this thing because I need to finish. But I am beginning to doubt it'll be worth the refining process I put TRR through. All the time and sacrifice that went into that manuscript was a labor of love. So how do you put that into something you don't love?

Maybe it will come with time. Maybe it will come through the beta process. Maybe it will never come. Maybe I don't want it to come. I don't know. I do know I love writing, even when it's hard and I'll keep pushing forward because that's all I know to do.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Birthdays and Babies!

30 by Perfesser on Flickr

What a month! I turned 30 yesterday, just 13 days after giving birth to my beautiful little girl. Two kids is certainly more than twice the crazy as one, but we're doing good. The last of our visitors leaves today, then we have two weeks before the next set arrives. I'm getting back into the swing of things with my writing (praise the Lord for kids that nap at the same time!) It feel so amazing to get my body and my mind back after a long and difficult pregnancy! I'm excited to get back to blogging and finish this eternal first draft of my WiP. (BTW, is there a 40k curse? Because I keep getting stuck there and I know at least two other writers stuck at the same point right now. Weird.)

Anyway, I usually reserve this blog for sharing my creative pursuits, but I wanted to share a little of Ember's birth story because it's just that cool. Some day she'll hate me for telling it over and over, but it's just the perfect kind of crazy that bears repeating! After this, I promise to get back to my regularly scheduled programing ;)

Everyone told me second babies come faster than their older siblings. My first labor was 60 hours of regular, strong contractions, so "faster" to me is a relative term. With zero signs of impending labor as my due date approached, I wasn't in any sort of rush to prepare. The day before my due date, I planned to hit up every labor-inducing trick in the book. Walking, bouncing, spicy food and the ever-popular "get them out the way you got them in." I took my two-year-old for a walk around the neighborhood before dinner, with a stop our local Coffee Bean for a coconut cream cake and a pumpkin spice latte. I made dinner, but didn't feel much like eating. Around 7pm, I started getting a few sporadic contractions. Nothing major, nothing close, but since it was the day before my due date, I let my husband know.

Actual text at 7:06pm: I think I'm having some real contractions. Nothing regular enough to time, but enough to make bedtime interesting.

Reply from hubby: :( or :) Let me know if you need me

I continued about my night, getting my little guy bathed and in jammies, while the contractions got closer and stronger. By the time we were rocking, they were pretty serious.

Actual text at 7:40pm: Yeah this is much harder with a rambunctious toddler ;)

Reply: Just remember to stay relaxed... Release all that extra tension... Or as much as you can with a rambunctious toddler ;)

Actual text at 8:00pm: What do you bet this is just a tease & as soon he's asleep it all stops?

With the little guy asleep and in bed, I went to lay down. Unlike with my first, the Bradley Method comfort position (sprawled out on the side, with an arm on each side) actually helped. I lay in the dark hitting the button on my contraction counter app without bothering to look at the times.

Actual text from hubby at 8:58pm: Headed home

Reply from me: Cool. See you soon.

In the time it took for my husband to drive home, things got serious. I checked the times and the contractions were less than 3 minutes apart and about a minute and a half long - longer, stronger and closer than they EVER got with my first! My husband coached me through a couple more contractions before my water broke around 9:40pm with a huge pop and gush.

I texted our awesome friends/neighbors to see if anyone could come over since my sister (and planned baby-sitter) was at work. In the time it took for me to change and my husband to get the car loaded, things got more intense. Unlike the contractions I had with my first, these wrapped all the way around my back and made it hard to focus my eyes. Our friends arrived and we headed off to the hospital.

My husband did an awesome job of keeping me calm despite the pain and intensity. Halfway down the 405 I was muttering something about hating the roads in LA. Nothing like having contractions while getting rattled by horrible road conditions. We arrived at the hospital where I refused to accept a wheelchair and walked up to labor and delivery (What? Why? I'll never know). Upon our arrival, we discovered all the lovely, well-appointed labor/delivery rooms were full and we were brought into a room usually reserved for c-section recovery. Our nurse offered an epidural, but I made it through my first labor and delivery without medication. I wasn't going to wimp out only 3 1/2 hours into my second. Besides, it wasn't so bad. Between contractions, I was laughing and smiling. I assumed I had a ways to go.

Yeah. Not so much.

By the time I got changed into a gown and checked, I was basically ready to push. The poor nurse called for the NICU, the doctor, antibiotics, more equipment, more nurses. My husband was amazing at keeping me calm despite the fact that I felt completely out of control. He's seriously the best coach EVER. This whole time the contractions kept coming and the only thing I could do when one hit was push. I wasn't trying! Honest!

A senior nurse arrived, trying to give me directions while catching the baby, but I have no idea what she said or why. Baby needed to come! Less than an hour after we arrived (my husband thinks it was around 20 minutes), she arrived at 11:09pm on October 19 - 51 minutes before her due date and only 4 hours after those first sporadic contractions started. She came out just a few minutes before my doctor made it in the door, delivered by a nurse on a recovery bed and screaming like crazy.

Fortunately her speedy exit didn't cause any damage to me (woohoo! No stitches!) and my recovery has been a breeze. I was up and walking as soon as we got to our room (which was upgraded to the $500/night suite since I delivered in a recovery room without a doctor!) I feel fantastic and so blessed that everything worked out like it did. If we'd been half an hour later, she would have been born on the side of the road. Crazy. Just plain crazy.

But she's here, we're good and I can't wait to get back to (new) normal. Thanks for joining me on this journey through motherhood!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Maternity Leave


I think it's time to call it quits. I've seen so many mommas keep writing, querying and blogging right up until labor, but I think I've reached my breaking point. Between my toddler, my day job, keeping the house and laundry in check, remembering to feed the family and occasionally having a few moments to connect with my husband, I have nothing left at the end of the day. I love writing, but it's become something on my to do list instead of something I want to do. I haven't been great about blogging either and it's become a burden more than a delight. I'm exhausted and in pain almost all the time (hooray for pelvic bones separating and baby dropping!), neither of which is very conducive to creative pursuits.

So while I wanted to finish my work in progress and send out a bunch of queries for my completed manuscript before this baby arrives, I'm taking my leave early. Sometime in the next six week I'll have a whole new person to get used to and I need to take time now to rest and enjoy my son. I need to be free from my own expectations and the sense that I should be writing every time I get a free moment.

So thank you, Sweet Readers, for joining me on this journey. This is just a momentary pit stop along the road. Some time in the future, when I can see my toes and breathe again, I will be back with a vengeance. I'm certainly not giving up in my dreams of finding an agent and getting published, but I'm ready to take a break from the daily grind. I appreciate all of you who have read something I've written or ever given me words of encouragement. It means the world to me. I can't wait to share with you all again!

Until then,

Jenny

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What I Learned Last Weekend


My family and I spent Labor Day weekend at a music festival in Northern California called JoshuaFest, so I got to spent five days stalking teenagers without being a creep. JoshuaFest is a Christian rock festival, so it's a pretty specific subset of teen culture, but I think a lot of what I saw is universal.



The biggest thing I realized is teens haven't changed that much in the decade since I turned 20. They still love to hang all over their friends (same and opposite gender). They still write on arms and legs. They still stay up way too late (and make noise even with a toddler sleeping in the tent next door). They're still in a hurry everywhere they go. I forget the intensity of my teen years because I've mellowed with age, but watching a fifteen-year-old rush across the fairgrounds to join the pit for a favorite band, it all comes flooding back.

A lot has changed too. I got my first cellphone when I left for college. It made phone calls on a tiny, black and white screen. Almost every teen I saw had a smart phone - and more often than not, spent more concert time staring at the screen than at the stage. These particular teens seemed less cliquish too. In my days, the goths didn't hang out with the emo kids, who didn't hang out with the hardcore kids, who didn't hang out with the punk kids. I grew up in the Christian rock scene so I think I have a fairly good comparison there and I have to say I recognized a lot more unity than when I was a teen. That's encouraging to me.

Obviously fashion changes (hello Katniss braids!), musical taste changes and technology changes. But so much stays the same. Girls still try to keep their appearances up in dusty camp grounds. Boys are still too shy to profess their feelings for their girl friends. Every small hiccup is still the end of the world. Somehow, I find that reassuring.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Pep Rally: Agent for a Day & A Winner!

Congrats to Robert Kristoffersen! Random.org picked you for my giveaway! Your dowmload code should be in your email! Thanks to everyone who entered!


Today is our first Monday Pep Rally over at YA Misfits! Each Monday we post a question and you can answer on your own blog, then post a link on the Misfits post so we can all enjoy. Today, Dahlia "The Bible Thumper" Adler asked this question:

If you were an agent, what would be on your wish list?

I would love to see some good middle grade adventure - like the Goonies, but a book.

YA urban fantasy that isn't the same old creatures rehashed. Must have great atmosphere (setting is a character too!) and believable characters.

YA romance that makes me believe in true love and brings tears to my eyes.

YA horror that brings chills to my spine. Nothing overly graphic or gratuitus. Just the kind of thing that makes me glad I don't sleep alone.

A bedtime picture book WITHOUT an obvious ABAB rhyme sceme and a story that both my two-year-old and I can enjoy.

So there you go: my wishlist! Now go answer on your blog and post your link in the Mistfits' comments and mine!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

YA Writers Ask A Teen (#YAWritersAAT): Family & Home

Leigh Ann Kopan hosted the weekly #YAWritersAAT chat on Twitter sunday night. I've spent all weekending rearranging our home and assembling furniture from Ikea in preparation for Kid 2, so I apologize for not getting this up sooner.

This weeks topic: Family & Home. Insight from real teens on who are the cool parents, curfews, sibling comparisons and more. In case you missed, here's the transcript:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Be Inspired Bloghop Meme


The lovely Steph Sessa tagged me for the Be Inspired Bloghop Meme! Thanks, Steph! I think I'm going to do this for my work in Progress instead of my querying manuscript. You've all heard me talk about that one too much, right?

1. What is the name of your book?

The Last Lightning Prince

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

I have no idea. I had an idea as a teen - maybe even younger - about a boy falling from the sky. That idea sat in the back of my head for probably 20 years before I decided to give it a try. I was driving past the Signal Hill neighborhood of Long Beach and the setting clicked into place. A town that's an epicenter for weather and a boy who controls lightning tumbling to the earth. And the awesome girl who rescues and protects him.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

I always hope I can reign in the crazy enough to call it magical realism, but most likely it will end up as contemporary fantasy.

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

Cambria, my main character, looks like a young Sara Rue (who I totally think was cuter before Jenny Craig got her hands on her). For Raiden, the Lightning Prince  himself, there's a photographer in Norway named Joakim Kræmer who happens to look exactly like the image in my head. He's seriously talented too. Check out his gallery!


5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis if your book.

When 16-year-old Cambria finds an injured boy in her backyard, she has no idea he shepherds lightning or that they will soon be running for their lives or that he might just be the love of her life.

Lame, huh? Haven't put a whole lot of thought into that yet.  I'm still trying to get through my first draft!

6. Is your book already published?

It's not even finished.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

I started in January and I'm half way. But I keep revising as I write and I had to cut out a whole story line. And I'm pregnant. I get a pass, right?

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?

Erm...I never know what to say to this question. Especially for this one. It's really high on the romance, light on world building, but weird. Does that sound like anything?

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

As always, Madeline L'Engle and Lois Lowry. I think of them both as "one off" writers - there's a level of normalcy amid their fantasy. Their stories seem so possibly impossible. Neil Gaiman is a master of that too.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

There's a lot of kissing. Especially for me. The first kiss happens on page 32. It's page 150 in my other MS. So yeah. Very different. And this:

"I am the last lightning prince of the Western reaches of the Heavens.”
“The Heavens?”
“In the beginning, the Creator made the Heavens and the Earth,” he recited.
“I know that story too.”
Raiden smiled. “But you don’t know the rest. The Creator gave the men of the earth dominion over the animals, over the land and all that grows in it. He gave my people, the men of the Heavens, dominion over the weather, over the sky and all that grows in it.”
“You make the rain fall?”
“No. I shepherd the lightning.”

11. Tag five people!

I know everyone is crazy busy right now, so if you want to share, I'd LOVE to hear about your projects! There's a lot of new stuff happening and I want to read it all! If you post, let me know so I can come stalk read your stuff!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

YA Writers Ask A Teen (#YAWritersAAT): Friendship & Fights

Leigh Ann Kopan hosted the third #YAWritersAAT chat on Twitter last night. This weeks topic: Friendship & Fights. Insight from real teens on friendship, can guys and girls be just friends, bullying, fights and more. In case you missed, here's the transcript:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Diminishing Marginal Utility


As a photojournalism student in college, I had to take Micro Economics. I wasn't particularly interested in the subject, so I took a three week condensed course over the summer. Because I had nothing better to do all summer than sit in a stuffy lecture hall. Anyway, I remember nothing from the class - including whether the professor was male or female - except for the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. The law states that the first unit of consumption yields more utility than subsequent units. In other words, the first cookie always tastes the best.

The other thing I got from that class was the start of a story that I didn't write for another 5 or 6 years. It's the one I'm querying now. I had this scene in my head of a boy with a penchant for fighting with supernatural baddies slipping into his house after a fight and attempting to clean up before his mom discovered the damage. That scene spilled onto the pages of my notebook and now, almost a decade later, is the opening scene of a manuscript I'm really proud of. In fact, that open just landed me a spot as one of five finalists for The Reading Room's Aspiring Writers Competition. (You can read the scene & vote for me if you feel so inclined...)

You never know where inspiration will come from or when a random thought will spark something great. Small ideas can take root and grow into wonderful things. Never discount something because you don't have a place for it. Write things down, keep them for later. Let them germinate and blossom when the time is right. Ideas, unlike cookies, don't diminish with use.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ask A Teen Chat: Everything High School #YAWritersAAT

Leigh Ann Kopan hosted the second #YAWritersAAT chat on Twitter last night. This weeks topic: Everything High School. Lots of great insight on high school culture, dances, teachers, sex, drugs and food fights from real teens! In case you missed, here's the transcript!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

LOOK Meme

I've been tagged by Feaky Sucker for a meme on her blog called LOOK!

If you are tagged, do a search for the word "look" in your work in progress. Copy that paragraph, along with surrounding paragraphs, to your blog, to keep the game afloat. Don't forget to tag others.

So here's a little bit from The Lightning Prince. I think this will stay, even though I've realized I'm trying to write two books instead of one. Sigh. Too many ideas, too little time. And this pregnancy is stealing all my writing time!

--

Their feet slipped on the muddy ground, unable to find traction in the sodden grass. Wincing, Cambria braced herself to keep him upright. A violent flash of lightning lit the stranger’s face. He was younger than she first thought. Not a man. A boy. In terrible pain.

“My house is close,” Cambria said. “I can take you inside.”

He shook his head, trying to pull away and succeeding in falling again.

Cambria knelt before him. “I’m sorry. I have to. I can’t see here.”

“Have to hide,” he wheezed through gritted teeth.

“If you hide, I can’t help you.My parents are at work til tomorrow. It’ll be just you and me.”

He looked up at her with those impossible eyes. “What if I hurt you?”

She swallowed. It hadn’t occurred to her that the strange boy lying broken in her backyard might be dangerous. She’d heard an injured cry and she had to help. Her parent’s were right. Someday, her impulsiveness would get her hurt or killed.

But she was certain it wasn’t that day. It wasn’t this stranger who would do her harm.

“I can’t leave you out here,” she said. “It’s safe inside. If you try to hurt me, I’ll call the cops or something. Come on. We’re wasting time.”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

YA Writers Ask A Teen: #YAWritersAAT

Leigh Ann Kopans hosted an awesome chat about slang, voice and technology with teen readers/writers Marlana Fireman and Marlana Fireman Sunday night. In case you missed it, here's a transcript of the chat. Lots of great info about how teens view swearing, slang, computers, phones and more.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mommy Guilt

I know I'm his mom, but he's too pretty for a newborn!

You know those moms who always look pulled together, whose children never have runny noses or empty sippy cups? Their car seats are clean and Goldfish-free. They have hearty, healthy, home-cooked meals served at appropriate times. They have white couches that miraculously repel stains and their windows are never marred by greasy finger prints. Their children know they are loved and cherished because of all the undivided attention lavished upon them and their husbands bask in the glow of adoration.

Yeah, me neither. But somehow, this is the standard I've set for myself. I'm not a natural homemaker. Ask my college roommates about my dirty dishes. Or don't. They might rather forget. I'm not a natural mother either. I don't love answering questions over and over. I don't like grimey hands and snotty faces. I'm not good at sitting on the floor for hours working on the same mundane task. I hate glitter. I don't like anything involving glue sticks. I love MY kid(s), but other kids get to me. I lack patience and understanding.

It's taken me a long time to realize that this is OKAY. There is nothing WRONG with me. Giving birth did not magically change who I am - an introvert who would rather spend her time alone with pretty thoughts than do things with people. That doesn't make me a bad person or even a bad mother.

What is does mean is that I wrestle - daily - with Mommy Guilt. Every time I skimp on dinner to squeeze in a few more minutes of writing or throw on a movie so I can finish a book, I feel like I'm the most terrible mother in the world. Because REAL moms, GOOD moms, never ignore their children. They're never more interested in anything than their toddlers. They spend their days gazing lovingly into their children's eyes, utterly content.

WRONG.

I am the best mom I can be when I take care of me too. When I take time for me - usually writing or reading or something photography related - I enjoy my time with my son more. When I'm deliberate about my time, every part of my life benefits. I try very hard to get some unhurried creative time each day. I spend time playing with (and enjoying) my son. I connect with my husband, sharing our experiences for the day.

Often, that means laundry goes unfolded or emails unanswered. My showers are rushed and I don't remember the last time I put on make up. But for me, that creative time ministers to my soul and allows me to thrive - as a mother and as a human being.

Some day my children will be grown and I know I'll look back at this time with sadness, wishing I had slowed down and enjoyed it more. But I also know I'll be grateful for the time I spent nourishing my mind. And I hope my kids will too.

I still don't know how to get rid of the Mommy Guilt. But I do know it's a lie. You are the best parent or spouse or child or friend when you can love without obligation. Not to say there aren't things we give up to make the balance work, but know there is no perfect mother and no perfect mould you need to cram yourself into. You were created to be you. Find out who that is and thrive.

How do you deal with Mommy Guilt (or Spouse Guilt or whatever)? Any tips on keeping all the balls spinning?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Those Weeks...


I have nothing particular exciting or uplifting to say today, but it is Monday and I like to keep a little consistency in the midst of the chaos ;)

It's just been one of those week, you know? Nothing terrible has happened. I can handle a major crisis. In the past couple years, we've face unemployment, my dad's cancer, major car accidents. I weathered those with faith and hope.

No, it's never the major things that knock me down. It's the small things.

Over the weekend, my toddler managed to scratch my cornea and break my Kindle within 36 hours. Not anything that can't be fixed with a whole bunch of eyedrops and shelling out some hard-earned cashed on a new e-reader. But enough to make me want to sit down in the middle of the living room and cry. Like a baby. And whine on Twitter, Facebook and my blog. Because seriously, it's the end of the world or something.

I think maybe that's one of the reasons I like fiction. The conflicts are so BIG. It's life or death, do or die. It's aching love and world-changing choices. It's not driven by the petty problems of an almost-thrity-year-old mother of a two-year-old.

I've done things like build houses in the slums of Tijuana, Mexico and visited incarcerated teenagers in their prisons. I've fed the homeless and comforted people devastated by tragedy. I know how blessed I am.

Yet in my pride and selfishness, I let the little things steal my joy. How ridiculous!

And how essentially human. It is so hard to see past our own little worlds and grievances.

I don't really know what my point is. I think these pregnancy hormones are getting to me. But I'm trying to get my perspective back, trying to remember how much I have and how little it has cost me. Save the drama for my writing.

How about you? Do the little things break you faster?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creative Commons: Free Images for Bloggers

In case you missed Roni Loren's story about getting sue for using an unauthorized photo on her blog, you can read the whole story here. To summarize:

You CAN Get Sued for Using Photographs on Your Blog

(My CP Leigh Ann also blogged about it here)


This isn't news to me. In journalism school, they hammered into our heads the need to protect our images. My husband works in the movie business and has numerous tales of live destroyed because of copyright infringement. But it's a good reminder.

Photographs add visual interest and dimension to blog posts. It would be rather bland if we all stopped including picture on our posts, but most of us can't afford stock photos and fair use is just confusing. Sites like Flickr do allow you to search for Creative Commons image, which have specific licenses for use on blogs and the like, but even those can be confusing.


As an alternative, some lovely writers and photographers (including me) have been going through our archives to put together a collection of images that are free for any blogger to use. We'd love for you to include an attribution - basically something stating that name of the photographer. To add a caption in blogger, click on the photo and a box will pop up with the option. Easy-peasy and no risk of being sued!

Here's some links to free, Creative Commons photos for bloggers:

Creative Commons Photos by Jenny Kaczorowski

Creative Commons Photos by Leigh Ann Kopans (and here)

Creative Commons Photos by Cait Peterson

Enjoy - and let me know if you have photos you'd like to share. I'll add your links here!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Stories We Tell

Old Books by kraybon on flickr

We all have stories - stories that explain who we are, where we come from, who we love. For each of the people in our lives, there are specific stories that stand out - that in some way represent that person. Those are the stories that become family lore (like how my great-grandma refused to make cornbread ever again after one comment from her husband). They shape our perceptions and expectations of people we meet.

These stories have power. They're alive and they keep us alive. I never had a chance to meet my son's namesake - he passed years before I met my husband - but through the stories I've heard from the people who knew and loved him, I've been able to know him in some way too.

These stories can make us laugh. The one I use to sum up my husband come from first grade. His teacher, who obviously shouldn't have been around first grade boys, told him to glue his butt to his seat. He proceeded to get out his glue and literarily glue his pants to his desk chair. She recognized this as the act of defiance that it was and called his mother. My mother-in-law, the saint that she is, asked why the teacher was so upset. He did exactly what he was asked to do. Subversive little seven-year-old, wasn't he?

These stories can make us cry. The story goes that my great-grandfather spent his last day on earth in his beloved garden, preparing it for the summer. He went to bed that night and never woke up. That chokes me up every time. Or the letter Civil War soldier Sullivan Ballou wrote home to his wife the week before he died (read it here: Sullivan Ballou's Letter). His wife, widowed at 24 with a young son, never remarried. How could she?

The stories we tell matter. The true ones and the ones that are true in our hearts. As a writer of fiction, the stories I make up sometimes are more important than the ones from my real life. The stories I've read in beloved books are no less real because they didn't happen. They still shaped me and informed my understanding of the world. 

Be careful with the stories entrusted to you - whether real or imagined. You hold the world in your words. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Inertia - Or Why I Must Keep Writing


Sometimes I write because I love it. Sometimes I write because the words are straining for release. Sometimes I write because I'm afraid to stop.

If I stop - if I let it go one day, it turns to two, then three. Then it's been weeks and I don't know how to start again.


If I stop, and my stories just become files on my hard drive, all the hours spent toiling over these words mean nothing. I. Must. Keep. Going.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Don't Stop Believing

Next time you feel like your artistic endeavors are going nowhere and you'll never find success, keep this in mind:

Journey never had a number one hit.



Success can be defined so many ways. Don't let anyone else's narrow definition keep you from pushing forward.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Eleven Things

Sharp eleven by Caro's Line on flickr
The lovely Megan Whitmer tagged me for a post in which I need to answer eleven questions about myself. Because I know you all want to hear more about me ;)

So here goes:

1. What's your favorite song?

This week? Today? Ever? I mean, I can only pick one?!? Based on my iTunes play count, Light Up Ahead by Further Seems Forever is the one I listen to most that isn't one of my son's songs. And it is an awesome song:


2. How many times did you fail your driver's license test?

Only once. But I was almost 19, so I guess that's my excuse? Because I'm certainly not a great driver.

3. Who's your celebrity crush?

Umm... I usually have talent crushes (oh, Ryan O'Neal, you can write lyrics for me any day), but Johnny Depp is a perpetual favorite. Or Noah Wyle. And if I'm really honest, the Harris brothers from Deadliest Catch.



4. What is the most disgusting word you can think of?

Phlegm. Look at it. LOOK!

5. Don't you think Tombstone is the best movie of all time?

Don't hate me, but it has been many, many years since I watched it last. Like 15 or something. Then again, it's been months since I've watched any movie that doesn't entertain a two-year-old.

6. If you had to eat one food every day for a year, what would it be?

Without consequences? Pizza. With? Peaches.

Image: flickr.com


7. What are your top 3 favorite books?

The Man in the Brown Coat by Agatha Christie, Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry and A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle.

8. Have you ever met anyone in real life that you originally met on Twitter?

Nope. But we need to change that.

9. What was your first job?

My first real job was busing tables at Bob Evans. It sucked.

Image: obit-mag.com


10. How to make a PB&J?

I'm a glutton. I put peanut butter on both slices of bread, then jelly on top of both, then smash it all together.

11. Name one thing that majorly creeps you out.

I've mentioned this before, but fish. Creep me out like nothing else. I wake up in the middle of the night convinced there are fish in my sheets & panic.

Image: flickr.com
(It's going to eat my SOUL!)

Now, I'm supposed to tag 11 bloggers to do the same, but I think everyone I know has already been tagged! So if you haven't, consider yourself tagged and here's my eleven questions for YOU, mostly based on Megan's. Be sure to link back in the comments so I can come find you!

1. What's your favorite album of all time?

2. Can you drive a manual transmission?

3. Who was your very first celebrity crush?

4. What is the most disgusting word you can think of?

5. What movie could you watch over & over?

6. If you had to eat one food every day for a year, what would it be?

7. What are your top 3 favorite books?

8. Have you ever met anyone in real life that you originally met on Twitter?

9. What was your oddest job?

10. How do you make a grilled cheese? Butter the outside of the bread or inside too? What kind of bread? What kind of cheese?

11. Name one thing that majorly creeps you out.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Writers' High

You almost feel like you could fly without the plane...
by addicted Eyes on flickr

My husband is the kind of person who jumps out of perfectly good airplanes for fun. He rides a motorcycle as his daily driver. He eats those hot wings you have to sign waivers for before ordering. I, on the other hand, am still traumatized by the roller coaster at Kiddie Park when I was four.

But I'm still an adrenaline junkie. I just get my fix in other ways. I never did school projects earlier than needed - I need that panicked rush of adrenaline to helps me focus. (I swear I'm a percolator, not a procrastinator!) I read really fast to keep my brain firing at high speeds. I use loud, fast music to pump myself up.

And then there's the writers' high. You know that feeling when you dash out entire scenes in mere minutes, when your story flies from your finger tips and an entire world opens up before you. When writing is easy and you find yourself unconsciously mimicking yours characters actions and facial expressions as you write. When reality disappears and you are wholly invested in your story.

Best. Feeling. Ever.

I hit a writers' high this weekend, cranking out more words in a single afternoon than I did the entire previous week. Everything I wrote was beautiful, important, brilliant. I couldn't wait to send the whole manuscript to my critique partners. I was invincible!

Then it hit. The crash. Like any junkie, coming back to earth sent me spiral into depths as low as my high was high. It took me a while to figure it out. I stared at my work in progress. The words were the same. They didn't suck. But nothing more was coming. I opened notes from a CP on the manuscript I'm querying. They were great notes. But I couldn't even begin to process them. I moved on to revising my query. It was terrible. Nothing I did could fix it.

Fortunately, I have a great support group of other writers to buoy me back up, to assure me I'm not a rambling idiot (most of the time), that my feelings are valid, but temporary, to read, critique and reread my query until it shines.

Writing, while a solitary activity, is a group effort. It takes a village to raise a book. Or at least a writer. Today, the madness of the high and the despair of the crash are both gone, settling back into my usual optimism that my writing is almost there. Today I am incredibly grateful to my fellow writers for carrying me through the mania. And to my family for understanding when I get a little irrational over imaginary people.

I keep chasing the high. I keep fighting the crash. Because I'd go crazy without writing. Or at least crazier.

How do you cope with the highs and lows of pursuing your art? How do you recover when you've expended everything you have on the page or screen and need to refuel? I'd love to hear your tips!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lucky Seven

I'm more than halfway into my work in progress, so page 77 is actually in the right spot now and it only seemed fitting to share it (although I did cheat & move down a line to avoid a total spoiler).

In case you forgot, here are the rules for the Lucky 7 Meme:

Go to page 77 in your current MS/WIP
Go to line 7
Copy down the next 7 lines--sentences or paragraphs--and post them as they're written. No cheating.
Tag 7 authors.
Let them know.

Consider yourself tagged if you have something to share & link back to my comments so I can come find you!

---

Raiden tilted his face toward her, the same misery in his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, the water-like quality of his voice flowing over her.

Cambria stopped and caught his hand. “No. Don’t regret this.”

He shoved his hand through his hair, scattering strands of black and blue and green in the sunlight. “There’s no way this ends without me hurting you. That sucks.”

“They say ‘sucks’ in the Heaven?”

“It’s the Heavens, not Heaven. I know as much slang as you.”

Monday, July 2, 2012

Second Time Around

pen by FlorianMecl on deviantART

The Alterae is my third finished writing project. Finished in terms of having a beginning, middle and end. My first two are short, they have all kinds of PoV issues and they were really more for practice than anything else. TA is the first thing I finished that I thought might have potential beyond amusing my friends and family.

Throughout the drafting process, I didn't share TA with anyone. I'd already revised four times before I showed it to a soul. But in the time since I started sending it out into the world, I've built a community around myself and my writing. I've developed friendships and critique partnerships. I've joined other writers on their journeys toward publication - through first manuscripts, second manuscripts, the query trenches, contest after contest and signing with dream agents.

So here I am now, halfway through my next projects (I posted an excerpt here) and it's completely different from writing TA. There's a level of excitement and, to some degree, expectation. I've sent various scenes around to my CPs, asking for feedback and validation. I'm less sure of myself and my story, even though I have positive reinforcement everywhere I turn. My CPs are actually excited to get their hands of this thing! I even have a few requests from agents to see my next project. I want to finish it NOW!

At the same time, it's starting over. I've developed the world of the Altered over years. I wrote the very first scene (posted here) ten years ago during a summer micro econ class in college. For this story, I'm making it up from scratch. It's a vague idea I've had kicking around since junior high, but I wrote the first scene for this project in mid-January. Coming up with a new story, a new world, new characters (and getting into their heads) is a lot of pressure, especially because I have something else out there. I've developed a style and a voice through TA. What if this one isn't as good? What if I let people down?

With a first attempt, there's no expectations, but it's the same kind of cheerleading either. So good and bad, it's a totally different journey the second time around. Kind of like having a second kid...

Do you have any tips for writing a second manuscript? 

Friday, June 29, 2012

From My Work In Progress

Photo by Julian Beattie From Amy & Owen on kariz-matik.com
I dove back into my work in progress (working title: The Lightning Prince) and I'm just too impatient to wait to share it. So here's a little taste from the opening pages. Enjoy!

--

Cambria couldn’t ignore the cry. It resonated in her soul, pulling her further into the thick grass. The tangled weeds, slick with rain, twisted around her ankles. Thunder pounded the sky, shaking the earth beneath her. The driving wind blurred her vision and tore at her hair.

She pressed on. One foot in front of the other. The cry came again, softer and more like a groan.

Cambria’s foot struck something hard and she dropped to her knees, searching for something buried in the tall grass. The cold worked its way into her bones, numbing her hands and distorting any sense of what lay beneath her fingertips.

The smell of something warm and metallic burned her tongue. Cambria froze and popped upright, scanning the field for anything that might have left a wounded, or dead, animal behind.

A hand grasped her wrist, nearly shattering the bone with the force of its grip. She screamed and jumped to her feet, but the hand held tight, pulling her back with a desperate whimper.

Falling to her knees again, Cambria fumbled for her phone, using the screen to light the body in front of her.

The eyes staring up at her from behind a thick fringe of dark lashes weren’t real. They weren’t possible. The swirling shades of grey and brown and green, flecked with gold and black, were too variable, too alive, to be human.

She flicked her gaze over the rest of the face – drawn and ashen, marked with blood and dirt. She gingerly touched the swelling under his eye and he flinched.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

To Thine Own Self Be True

voice by P0RG on deviantART

I love snark. I love dry humor. The Princess Bride is one of the best written movies of all time. ALL TIME. But when I try to write like that, it falls completely flat. I see all these great queries, with snarky heroines and all kinds of voice. My heroines aren't snarky. They aren't witty or clever.

Now, my friend and critique partner Megan can write snark. Her characters are funny and sincere and say things like "full of sheet." I like to call her manuscript "fantastical snark." I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it.

Me? I write things that are beautiful but dark. I write sweet romances and creepy villains. I wish I could write like Megan. She tells me she wishes she could write like me.

I'm glad we each write in our own voices. There's something magical about natural voice. When you read something that jumps off the page and takes you to someplace you can't go on your own. You can't fake that. You can't force yourself to write like someone else. It will always sound false. So don't worry about writing like someone else. Find your voice and let it shine.

Friday, June 22, 2012

More Editing Tips


Last week I posted 10 self-editing tips for writers. Today I have a few more tricks I've picked up in my numerous rounds of edits. Hope you enjoy!

1.) Use a different font to edit than what you use to write. You'll see things differently because the words will look different on the page.

2.) Use different font colors to differentiate between points of view, scenes, etc to give yourself an idea of how everything balances.

3.) Use a text-to-speech programs (I use my Kindle) or read your draft aloud. I always pick up different things when listening vs. reading.

4.) Print a hard copy. I know if take a lot of paper and ink, but sometimes a computer screen just won't cut it.

5.) If you're using Word, utilize the document map in the side bar to see your chapter numbers. Don't want any duplicates!

Got any more tips for me? 

Friday, June 15, 2012

10 Self-Editing Tips for Writers



I don't often talk about the craft of writing. I suffer from trying to apply all advice all the time and loosing my voice. I'm hesitant to give advice because I believe the best thing you can do is write from your heart. For every piece of writing advice you read, there will be examples of extremely successful writers who do just the opposite. To quote Stephen King's review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

The part of speech that indicates insecurity ("Did you really hear me? Do you really understand me?") is the adverb, and Ms. Rowling seems to have never met one she didn't like, especially when it comes to dialogue attribution. Harry's godfather, Sirius, speaks "exasperatedly"; Mrs. Weasley (mother of Harry's best friend, Ron) speaks "sharply"; Tonks (a clumsy witch with punked-up, particolor hair) speaks "earnestly." As for Harry himself, he speaks quietly, automatically, nervously, slowly, and often given his current case of raving adolescence –– ANGRILY.

No one can argue J.K. Rowling hasn't been successful. She has written books that resonate with readers in a way that is almost impossible to top. Never taking writing advice - even from someone like Stephen King - as an iron-clad edict. Know this advice is out here and learn the WHY before blindly applying. Above all, stay true to you and your story.

All that being said, here are a few bits of advice I've picked up on self-editing to cut unnecessary words. Take what you can and ignore the rest!

1.) Adverbs. Yep. Most of the time, I don't need them. If readers can't tell a character spoke in anger, there might be a problem with the scene and just adding "angrily" isn't going to fix it. I run a search in Word for "ly" and examine each one to see if that extra description is needed at all, and if so, is there a stronger way I can write it? Usually there is.

2.) Passives. Why write "was/were running" when I can simplify to "ran"? Because when I'm drafting, I don't think about it. I just write. But when editing, I try to simplify as much as I can. It's clearer, more immediate and cuts word count.

3.) Began. Boy, this word pops up all over and almost 100% of the time, it doesn't add a thing. Again, why do I need "began to run" when I can skip straight to "ran"? When writing, it feels like to I need to explain the action is just starting, but isn't that obvious when you read it? If you're not sure, change it, then see if it jumps out during your next read through. It probably won't.

4.) That. Whenever this word pops up, I try the sentence without it. Often, it's still grammatically correct and conveys the same message without it. It just slips in. A lot.

5.) Just. Why do I use that word so much? I usually keep it in dialog. It seems more natural to me. But otherwise, it can go most of the time.

6.) Obvious descriptions. "Crossed her arms over her chest." Where else would she cross them? "Ground his teeth together." Can he grind them apart? As you read, think if there are ways to cut things that are implied.

7.) Seemed. This is a filter word. It creates distance. "The lights seemed to dim" vs. "the lights dimmed." If I'm in my character's head, of course it seemed that way to her. It's not needed.

8.) Dialog tags. I often write "he said" then give him an action. Most of the time, the action explains who is speaking, making the dialog tag unnecessary. (On a side note, try to keep dialog tags to "said" instead of "yelled," "muttered," "whined." Again, the context of the dialog should give the reader enough of the tone that they're not needed.)

9.) Comfort words. These change for everyone, but they're the words we use over and over and over because we like them. I use "eyes" FAR too much. I mentions eyes 200 times in 65,000 words right now. Know your writing (critique partners are invaluable for this) and know what words to look for. They're like a bad relationship - you keep going back, but you really don't need them.

10.) Names in dialog. There are times when one character would address another by name, but often, it just pads my word count and makes my dialog less authentic. Days go by that I don't address my husband by name. I use my son's name to catch his attention or correct his actions. Think about how you speak in real life and apply that to dialog. Don't use names unless absolutely necessary.

So there are some tips I've picked up. Remember, these are suggestions - not hard and fast laws. Take what you can, but don't let them ruin your voice or your love of writing.

Are there any I've missed? What are your favorite self-editing tips? Hooray for revising!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Squeee!! Or My CP has an AGENT!

Celebrate By Furryscaly on Flickr

My awesome, amazing, talented critique partner, Leigh Ann Kopans signed with Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary! Go check out Leigh Ann's blog to hear the whole story!

Leigh Ann & I meet, as writers do, through a pitch contest. I didn't win the contest, but I got a far more valuable prize - Leigh Ann! I had the pleasure of reading the first manuscript she queried. My husband teased me horribly for reading it on my Kindle while brushing my teeth. If you ever ask, she'll probably talk about how bad it was. It wasn't. I loved it.

Then Leigh Ann wrote ONE. And I cried. I've never wanted to hug a character as much as I want to hug Merrin. Someone, Leigh Ann tapped into that part of me that's still 14 years old and terrified of myself just as much as the world around me. Except that she didn't make that into weakness. She made it into strength. To quote my late night email after I started reading:

"This is one of those books that I love so much that I almost don't want to share because that will make it less "mine" - the last book I remember feeling that way about was A Wind in the Door. It's perfect. It's wonderful. It's heart breaking. This book needs to get published for all those girls who know the world is scary when you're little and who fear the things they want most and try, try, try to be more than ordinary."

Seriously, guys. It's that good! It almost made me want to quit writing because I will never write anything this beautiful and meaningful. Leigh Ann has grown so much as a writer and she has pour heart & soul into this story. And it shows.

But I had no idea why after Leigh Ann's aggressive query flurries and numerous contests (all while caring for 3 kids under 4, with #4 born in April!), she still hadn't been snapped up by an agent.

Now I know. ONE just needed to cross Tricia's desk! It's taken me a day to pull my thoughts together to form a coherent response. I love Leigh Ann, I love ONE and I CANNOT WAIT to see this book on shelves. Or to share it with my daughter once she's old enough to love it like I do.

Congratulations, Leigh Ann! You've worked so hard and come so far! I'm so proud to be you CP!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Shared Victory

Reposting because this seems more fitting than ever today!

From 9/26/2011
Ryan O'Neal of Sleeping At Last


Once upon a time, artists had patrons - wealthy men and women who gave them food, shelter and money so that they could pursue their art without the distraction of struggling for survival.

Not any more. Instead, all of us creative types have to stick together, to build each other up and support our artistic endeavors. Perhaps by virtue of living in Los Angeles, perhaps just by the kind of people I attract, I know a lot of artists. Most of us still work day jobs, still struggle to find creative energy after long days in the salt mines. We still stay up far too late or wake far too early because that creative passion burns inside us, demanding release, demanding we create.

Most of us have not received the kind of success our art deserves (yet).

When an artist I support does receive that kind of success - the success to pursue art without the need for a day job or the kind of critical acclaim true art warrents - I feel an incredible thrill. When über-talented Derek Hess (and Cleveland native) had a piece added to the permanent collection at the Louvre, I felt like is was victory for all us.

Ten years ago, my husband introduced me to Sleeping At Last, a band he discovered while living in Chicago his freshman year of college. It was love at first listen. I've followed their ups and downs (throughout the years, members have left the band, until today, Ryan is the sole full-time member), seen them live half a dozen times. I even watched two episides of Private Practice because they each featured a Sleeping At Last song. I listened to their album Keep No Score through my entire labor & delivery (so my son was LITERALLY born listening to Sleeping At Last). The poster for that album hangs over his crib. Their album Ghosts is my main soundtrack when writing Emma (there's a dance scene in The Alterae set to one of their songs in my head). I ramble on and on about them on facebook and twitter. I even quote song lyrics on this blog. I LOVE THIS BAND. I find so much inspiration in everything Ryan does.

This morning, Ryan announced that one of their songs will appear in the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1! (Insert squeals of delight on his behalf!) This is HUGE! We all know how powerful the Twilight franchise is - and I am so excited to see such an incredibly hard-working, dedicated artist share in that success! I really hope this will be the start of really big, really wonderful things for Sleeping At Last - and I fully expect you all to jump on the bandwagon now, before they're the hot new thing ;)

So keep the faith, keep making your art and may we all see success one day!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Speculative Fiction


Tell you a fairytale by LenaStinke on deviantArt



"... it is against the backdrop of fantasy and science-fiction that basic human truths can be best examined, magnified, and delighted in." 

Jennifer Azantian, literary agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

Basic human truth. Isn't that what the best stories explore? Those books that show you something you didn't know about yourself or the world around you?

I love speculative fiction - fantasy, science fiction, futuristic, the whole gamut. Because at heart, I like simple, honest, quiet stories. Stories that might seem boring, except that with some fantastic twist, it becomes something more, something deeper (like a broken superpower that becomes a metaphor for all the broken parts in each of us. Go ONE!).

On my worst days, I feel like what I write isn't serious writing. It isn't literarture. Sometimes I worry that means it isn't important. But just because a book is about fairies or demons or space ships doesn't mean it can't add value to our lives.

I'm reminded of A Wind in the Door, in which Meg faces an evil that Unnames things. It's so wildly outside my experiences, but I will never forget the impact that story had on me. Sure, I love Meg and Calvin. Charles Wallace makes me cry. Madeleine L'Engle will forever be my writing idol. But it's more than that too. It taught me the value of identity. It taught me to treasure who I am, to not let anyone "unname" me. It taught me that the most insignificant of us have unimaginably important roles to play within our own stories.

So speculative fiction might not receive the same kind of critical acclaim as literary. It might not draw the same attention as contemporary in writing contests. The market might be crowded and oversaturated. But it is important. It is valuable. 

Whatever you write (or create for my non-writer readers), hold to it. It's important because it's important to you. It's important because it's true on some level. Be it frothy romance, way out there space opera or sparkly fantasy, embrace it. Don't let anyone "unname" you. Be true to yourself and your art will be true too - and that (in my opinion) is the highest calling of storytelling. 

As always, I welcome your thoughts! Do you like speculative fiction? Or are you a realist? Do you feel like your art isn't as valuable as someone else's? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A vlog!

I swear some day I will write a real blog post again. But in the mean time, here's a vlog my critique partners talked me into doing & posting on YouTube. Enjoy!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Writers Voice Update!

I made it to the next round! As part of Team Brenda, you can read & comment (cheerleading only, no comments to agents) on Brenda Drake's blog! I'm excited about the great coaching Brenda gave me & can't wait to see how this does out in the real world!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fun with Hamlet & His Friends

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet.
Photo by James Lafayette. Public domain.


My mom had an old mimeograph copy of this Hamlet spoof when I was a kid and thanks to the wonders of the internet, I tracked down a copy of the anonymously written parody in Time Magazine. Time claims the spoof itself first appeared at the 1962 National Education Association convention, but whatever the story behind it, it's just as funny now as it was when I was a kid.

So next time you want to beat yourself up for using too many adverbs or adjectives or you worry your story is too passive, remember you can go to far the other way too!

Enjoy!
---

Fun with Hamlet & His Friends
By Anonymous

See Hamlet run. Run, Hamlet, Run. He is going to his mother's room. 

"I have something to tell you, mother," says Hamlet. "Uncle Claudius is bad. He gave my father poison. Poison is not good. I do not like poison. Do you like poison?"

"Oh, no, indeed!" says his mother. "I do not like poison." 

"Oh, there is Uncle Claudius," says Hamlet. "He is hiding behind the curtain. Why is he hiding behind the curtain? Shall I stab him? What fun it would be to stab him through the curtain." 

See Hamlet draw his sword. See Hamlet stab. 

Stab, Hamlet, Stab. See Uncle Claudius' blood. See Uncle Claudius' blood gushing. Gush, Blood, Gush. See Uncle Claudius fall. How funny he looks, stabbed. Ha, ha, ha. 

But it is not Uncle Claudius. It is Polonius. Polonius is Ophelia's father. 

"You are naughty, Hamlet," says Hamlet's mother. "You have stabbed Polonius." 

But Hamlet's mother is not cross. She is a good mother. Hamlet loves his mother very much. Hamlet loves his mother very, very much. Does Hamlet love his mother a little too much? Perhaps. 

See Hamlet run. Run, Hamlet, Run. 

"I am on my way to find Uncle Claudius," Hamlet says. 

On the way he meets a man. "I am Laertes," says the man. "Let us draw our swords. Let us duel." 

See Hamlet and Laertes duel. See Laertes stab Hamlet. See Hamlet stab Laertes.

See Hamlet's mother drink poison. See Hamlet stab King Claudius. 

See everybody wounded and bleeding and dying and dead. 

What fun they are having! 

Wouldn't you like to have fun like that?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Do You Pin?



When I first heard of Pinterest, my first thought was "not another social networking site," followed by "what a time suck." I still (sort of) stand by both. But after cluttering up my hard drive with random bits of inspiration for far too long, I took the plunge and requested an invite. I actually don't use it that often and seldom spend time just browsing, but it's a great way for me to bookmark things that inspire my stories or specific visuals I need for accuracy. It a lot of fun to see all these random bits form a cohesive board, like a visual outline of my stories. Like any tool, in can be used for evil or for good. But thus far, I'm a fan.

How about you? Do you pin? Or are you annoyed by the name like me? If you're on, check out my boards: http://pinterest.com/jennykacz/. If you're not and want to be, hit me up for an invite (assuming I can figure out how)!