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


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.


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?