Sunday, May 27, 2012

When the Words Won't Fit

For the past few days, I have not been writing, unless you count emails and blog comments. And even those were in small supply. Why haven't I been writing? It isn't for lack of ideas. I know exactly where I'm going with the short story I'm working on. It isn't for lack of want. Completing this short story is an integral part of my main goal at the moment. It isn't for lack of trying. I've attempted to write it many times. No, it's the words.

The words aren't fitting together right. They aren't creating the feel, the tone, the mood I desire, setting the scene I desire. It's like when you kind of know the words to a song, but you're just a little off so they don't work with the music. The point gets carried across, but it makes you cringe.

So what have I been doing instead? Anything I could think of to make the words flow. One of those things was to step away from the computer a bit. I even completely shut it down one day. Another one of those things was to watch TV. "NCIS" mostly. I've loved the show for quite some time, but I've never watched them all in order. I'm over halfway through season one now. But the number one most important thing I've done? I turned to that one book that always inspires me.

You know which one I'm talking about. We all have one. That book we always come back to eventually. That book we've read so many times the binding has worn thin. That book that inspires the writerly fire within us. For me, that book is The School Story by Andrew Clements.

Natalie's best friend, Zoe, is sure that the novel Natalie's written is good enough to be published. But how can a twelve-year-old girl publish a book? Natalie's mother is an editor for a big children's publisher, but Natalie doesn't want to ask for any favors.

Then Zoe has a brilliant idea: Natalie can submit her manuscript under a pen name, with Zoe acting as her literary agent. But it's not easy for two sixth graders to put themselves over as grown-ups, even with some help from a couple of
real group-ups who are supportive but skeptical. The next best-selling school story may be in their hands-but can Natalie and Zoe pull off their masquerade?

I don't remember exactly when I discovered this book, but I've loved it ever since. I probably don't have to tell you why. At the moment I'm about halfway through. And I'm feeling more and more up to writing. I mean, I wrote this post, didn't I?

What is your "book"? What do you do when the words won't fit?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Paper Mountain Awards (#1)

The scene: You are in a theater, seated in your favorite spot. You have the perfect view. Hundreds of seats filled with writers surround you. A white curtain is drawn across the stage. A chime sounds and all the quiet conversations stop. The lights dim. Anticipation wells up inside you. The curtain draws back...

"Welcome to the Paper Mountain Awards," a high voice bounces through the speakers. "I'm your host, Brooke." A spotlight shines down on the stage, illuminating a short blonde girl in a purple dress.

"Excuse me, but I believe I'm the host," another voice speaks up and a second light snaps on. A girl exactly like the first stands there, in a grey dress, hands on her hips.

"Brooklynn, I thought we agreed this was my-"

"Tonight's first award was proposed by Tara Tyler. She may not always say much, but when she speaks, you better listen. That's why, when she suggested this award for our show, we jumped straight on it. Now, without any further ado, the winners of the The Versatile Blogger are... are..." She pats her dress, searching.

"Ahem," Brooke clears her throat. "Are you looking for this?" She dangles a white envelope between her fingers.

"Give me that!"

"No." Brooke calmly flicks open the envelope and starts to read. "And the winners are Kadie Kinney, Teralyn Pilgrim, and Tizzy Potts!"

You clap politely with everyone else as the writers walk onstage to accept their awards. The applause makes it impossible to hear what Brooklynn is shouting. At least from your seat. Brooke seems to have heard her.

The girl in the purple dress rolls her eyes and says, "Fine. You can announce the next award." She holds out a second envelope.

Brooklynn snatches it out of her hand and huffs, but puts a smile on her face when she addresses the audience. "This next award is one we all know and love." She pauses, her lips still parted, and leans toward the audience before continuing. "That's right, it's the One Lovely Blog Award. The privilege of giving away this award was given to us by Laura Barnes. Which makes sense since she's as lovely as they come. Am I right?"

There are some cheers from the back of the auditorium. Holding the envelope where everyone can see, Brooklynn opens the envelope and slowly extracts a stiff card. The words are too small to read from where you sit, but there's no need. Brooklynn reads them for you. "The winners of the One Lovely Blog Award are Jessica Sayler, Kate Coursey, and Rachel Morgan!"

Brooke wheels the awards out on a small trolley as the writers make their way onto the stage. Brooklynn reaches to take them, but Brooke pulls them away. Though her lips barely move, she's still wearing a mic. "You announced the winners so I'm going to give out the award."

And then the fighting starts. "Just give me the award." "This was supposed to be my show anyway." "Just give it me!" "No!" "I said give-"

Then the lights go out and the curtain drops. Another chime sounds, overriding over the sound of the two fighting girls. A rumbling voice announces, "Thank you for watching the Paper Mountain Awards. Congratulations to all our winners. We hope to see you next time!"

You can still hear the girls screeching at each other in the background.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

OSAI Update and Plan of Action

The verdict's in. I will not have Internet for the two weeks I'll be away at OSAI in June. In a way, this is almost a relief. Without even the possibility of Internet and blogging, focusing on my writing will be much, much easier. However, in another way, it is entirely nerve racking! How am I going to get caught up on two weeks of missed blog posts? I can do it, but I'm probably going to run myself into the ground in the process.

I'm almost considering -gasp- letting those posts go. But I really don't want to. What if I miss something important? I'll be out of the loop. And I've read every single post every single person I follow has ever written. How can I let all that go to waste?

I'm thinking my best option would be to do what I did when I got behind during Spring Break. I read the most recent posts and went back to read the backlog when and if I had time. This is most effective for me, I believe, because I don't fall any more behind, in fact I start to catch up, I don't get stressed, and I still read everyone's posts.

Which do you think is the right choice? Do you like my plan of action?

On another sorta-kinda related note, I've made it my goal to finish up my last two Chrysalis stories before I go away. I received a binding machine for Christmas and I was toying with the notion of taking all of my short stories with me in a little "book." It's probably a good idea to take some of my writing with me (I don't know if I have to yet, still waiting for supply lists to be posted on their website) and I think it might be comforting if sleeping in a room with three strangers starts to freak me out.

The one I'm currently working on is going to be deliciously creepy. I just hope I can do my idea justice. I guess you guys will be telling me soon enough.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

YA Interview Vlog Series

I mentioned in one of my previous posts I had an idea for a new vlog series. This series encompasses a number of interviews with my friends about their favorite and least favorite genre, books, characters, etc. I am hoping that this series will be instrumental to YA writers by giving them a special kind of insight into their audience.

Here is the first installment that I posted on my YouTube channel last month. This is Jessica.

Please remember that different people have various personalities which greatly influence their likes and dislikes. Jessica is a very humorous and happy person (in case you couldn't tell) and her opinions reflect that. I plan to interview many different individuals to give everyone the widest spectrum possible. I suggest you subscribe to my channel if you want instant updates on new videos in this series.

Also, please note that Jessica's opinions do not necessarily reflect my own.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

What's Up With Me

Lately, it feels like all my posts have been scheduled. By this I don't necessarily mean written ahead of time then set to post on a certain date (not that I don't do that), but posts we all knew were coming. Think of my NaPoWriMo posts or my NYR Updates. Any posts that weren't expected were well thought out and planned way ahead of time. For instance, my recent post comparing dresses to writing. It's been forever since I've just talked to you guys, told you what was going on in my life and with my writing.

I think we all know where this is going...


On March 3, I drove to Ardmore, OK, to audition for the Oklahoma Art Institute's summer creative writing program. On April 10, I got my email saying that I had been accepted! This is especially gratifying because, not only does it mean I get a full scholarship besides the $250 acceptance fee, only fifteen people were accepted.

The camp is from June 9-24. I don't know if I'm going to have stable Internet access while I'm there so I may be gone during that time. I'll keep you updated. Right now I'm waiting for the information packet. It should be here any day.

Not-So-Colossal Updates

Remember, way back in October, when I told you I entered the Seventeen Magazine 2011 Fiction Contest? Well, I thought you might like to know how that turned out. I did not win. I didn't even make it into the finals. At first I was a little upset, because it is disappointing. However, I quickly got over it. I even included a slightly revised version of my entry in my writing portfolio for my OAI audition.

Another thing you may remember, my publication in Campaigner Challenges 2011. Cat, the wonderful woman who put this anthology together, has recently donated the proceedings to the "Help Harry Help Others" research fund. However, you can still purchase the book and your money will still go to the charity. You can find all the information about the book and where to buy it on my publications page.

Also, I just want to thank the judges who chose my entry for the First Campaigner Challenge and everyone who stopped by to congratulate me. I won fourth place if you didn't know. Thanks as well to Lady Gwen, Julie Maughon, and Jennifer Chase for donating the prizes I won.

I am still waiting to learn the results of the “Imagination begins with you…” - Annual High School Short Story Contest. They should be announced within the month.

Oh, and for anyone who is on Pottermore. My username is NifflerPixie19163. We can be friends. Just let me know that it's you in the comments. And yes, I am a Slytherin. I think I'm slowly getting used to it.

Now you know what's up with me, what's up with you?

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

NYR Update - 4 Months

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's just a bit glad that April's over. For many it has been a very busy month, what with the A-Z Challenge. And for those that didn't participate, such as myself, it was because we were too busy with other things. So, in a way, I'm thinking I'm going to relax in May. But first, I have to wrap up April.
  1. I will have THINKING OF YOU ready for query. I fully revised chapters four through six. I also decided that my goal is inaccurate. My desire isn't to be querying by the end of the year. In fact, I don't even know if that's possible for me. No, my aspiration is to have finished my first ever round of revisions. And I want my goal to reflect that, so I'm changing it. I will have complete THINKING OF YOU's ready for query first round of revisions.
  2. I will have two new first drafts. I decided on Lix for the MC's name in my untitled marriage dystopian. I now also have an extended list of names I could use for other characters.
  3. I will win National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo). I wrote a poem a day for the month of April, leaving me with 31 (technically 32, on a day I can't remember I wrote an extra I never posted) new poems. You can read all of them here as well as last year's 30 NaPoWriMo poems and others I've posted.
  4. I will submit at least two short stories to anthologies and/or contests. NA
  5. I will read at least one hundred books. I read five books and am currently reading four others. Goodreads states that I am four books behind.
  6. I will post at least one vlog a month. I posted the first vlog in my new series. I will be writing a post about it soon.
  7. I will exercise in some way once a week. The second week (April 8-14) I played manhunt once. This means I run around a whole neighborhood about four or five times. The fourth week (April 22-28) I ran three times for twenty minutes each and swam for an hour and a half once. I ran two or three other times that I didn't record.
I tried my weekly goal list idea. While it definitely helped me keep up with my chores, I'm not so sure how it contributed to my writing. I immensely enjoyed checking off the little boxes (as you can see), but household things could be accomplished more quickly, leading me to focus all attention on them in order to get that small satisfaction. In a way it was almost anti-productive.

I am trying this again. However, because I've not been feeling well, this week has gotten off to a rough start. I feel unmotivated and the list does not infuse me with the get-up-and-go I need. Keeping this going is not looking likely at the moment.

This month, I completed one of my goals. What goals have you accomplished lately?

P.S. Here's the 32nd poem. I think it's sort of motivational.

is but
yesterday’s tomorrow
yet hold on tight
with both hands
because it is also
tomorrow’s yesterday