Friday, October 30, 2009

Yeah, All Right, So I Cried

See, I'm not much of a crier. Sure, I get misty-eyed at the occasional orchestra concert and other stuff like that. Sometimes I tear up while reading. Or last week when my son earned the Arrow of Light (the highest rank in cub scouts). Little stuff, you know? And tears rarely make it past my eyes cuz I blink them back like crazy.

But this past weekend, I went for the gold medal in crying. And it's not that pretty crying. No, more like these weird animal sounds and the need for an entire roll of toilet paper and then solitary confinement.

The worst part? Not knowing exactly why I'm so upset.

So yeah. I'll spare you the details.

This post isn't about my issues, it's about encouragement. Where do you go when you've earned the gold in crying? Do you have someone that can lift you from the depths of despair? Something you read to inspire you?

I do. The problem? I rarely go there before we're watching Survivor and I'm sobbing on the couch. My DH is looking at me like I've gone crazy and the kids run for cover. Yeah, I'm a bottler. I think I can handle everything myself, that no one will understand anyway, and that hey, this isn't that big of a deal.

Until I have the gold.

So anyway, where do you find encouragement? Are you a source of strength for other people? How?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The End

Of the world as we know it...

Okay, it's really not. But every time I think of those two words, or write them, I think of that REM song. I can't help it.

And this isn't about me writing THE END. Heck, I haven't written in about 6 weeks. Editing sucks the writing life right out of you. Well, okay, I have penned the occasional short this week, but nothing significant.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about endings. I always always struggle with writing the end of my novels. Lately, as I watched a friend go through this same struggle, I started thinking about The End.

And I realized why writing THE END is sometimes hard (at least for me).

Because we truly love these made-up people that we're writing about. And we want their story to end like Cinderella's, with Prince Charming on the white horse and living in the big castle with the nasties polishing the floor.

But most of the time--at least for me--there isn't that Happily Ever After. Rarely do my novels end in rainbows and sunshine and a fabulous pink gown. I don't mind novels that do. It's just not how I write.

Once I realized that, letting the story go toward the dark side became easier.

What about you? Is writing the end easy? Hard? Do you tend to end your stories happily? Why or why not?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

That's Right, You Guessed It

I've avoided the NaNo blog post for as long as humanly possible. In my defense, I did put the little participator badge up at the beginning of October.

The problem? I've been toying with the thought of editing in November instead of writing. It was a fickle dream though.

So I've decided to go all out. That's right. No holding back. See, when you (meaning: me) killed (and I mean KILLED) NaNo last year, there's nowhere to go but down. So I'm putting on my literary armor, storming the storybook castle and forging toward the tallest tower in the north corner.

I'm going NaNo.

Come buddy me.

And then come join us on RallyStorm. I made a separate board in the Writing Throwdown forum, (where some of us have been cheering each other on since April) just for NaNo. And who doesn't need cookies (provided by Danyelle on a regular basis), and encouragement, and hand-holding and a cool place to hang out while they're trying to pound out fifty-freaking-thousand words in only thirty days?? Yeah, you do. You know you need it.

It's free to join, and everyone is welcome.

Who's with me? I said: WHO'S WITH ME? *insert battle cry here*

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Go The Distance

Okay, I went to a junior high orchestra concert the other night. First, let me just say that there's nothing like live music. It soothes the soul. Makes one realize that there's more to life than, oh, say the Internet.

It was beautiful. One of my husband's former students plays the cello, and that's why we went. It was fun to see him up there, making something magical.

But I digress. The last song they played was from the movie Hercules. Go the Distance.

Seriously, a Disney movie song?

Yeah, okay, it pretty much reduced me to tears.

Not because it was brilliantly arranged or performed. In fact, other pieces were more moving. Yet I wasn't all misty-eyed.

I was emotional because of the message of the song. As soon as I got home, I looked up the lyrics (cuz even though the Disney Channel is a staple around here, I don't have the words memorized. Believe it.)

I can go the distance
I will find my way
If I can be strong
I know ev'ry mile
Will be worth my while
When I go the distance
I'll be right where I belong

I love those words. They are so true for me and my publishing journey.

What do you think? When you go the distance, will you be right where you belong? Is every mile worth your while?

I think I will be. And I think it is.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Overconfidence And Other Such Things

Today is an important day for me. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I've been waiting for October 26 for a while now. During this wait, I've relied pretty heavily on those around me to keep my spirits up.

But as I was thinking the other day, something hit me. Not like a brick or anything, but you know, a deep thought.

I can't remember what sparked it. A blog or an email or a comment somewhere. But I remember thinking, "Oh, I'm gonna make it. That, I'm not worried about."

And as soon as I thought it, my next thought was, "Are you being overconfident?"

And that new thought has been somersaulting in my brain for while. Now, before you think *I* think I'm all that and a bag of chips (ooh! Chips!), I've also had a few emails from people who are just starting to get to know me. One particular email basically said that I'm a tad intimidating. Me! This is not the first time I've heard this, although I'm unsure as to why.

I swear I'm going to link these two random thoughts. So I've been stewing over my confidence issues: Am I overconfident? And the email: You're intimidating. 

And I wonder if they're related.

Does confidence spur intimidation? A dear (dear dear) friend of mine told me that she believes some people may be intimidated by me because I put out the attitude that I will make it in this business. And you know what? She's right. I absolutely 100% believe that I am going to make it. At the same time I don't intend to put people off by acting arrogant or overconfident. I just happen to think I've worked hard, learned a lot from the successes of others, applied what I've learned and that, yeah, eventually, I'll make it. This is something my dad taught me that I'll never lose: If you work hard enough, you can do anything you want. (Thanks, Dad.)

What say you about confidence (too much or not enough), intimidation or anything else?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Professionally Developed

Okay, so a week or two ago I had to attend some professional development meetings. That's right, I am now professionally developed.

Anyway, my principal rawks. Hard. She is so inspiring. And in a climate where we're losing like 30% of our budget and stuff like that, it's good to be around people that A) make you smile and then B) motivate you to do your job better.

And since I have a currently undiagnosed illness, I relate everything I hear to this whole "Hey, I wrote a book and now I want to publish it." thing. Do you have this illness? Perhaps it's just me.

So do you want to be professionally developed? You know you do.

Let's start with a picture.

This is Aspens Aglow by Connie Tom. And I love love love this painting. Because I love my nature moments to come in shades of gold and red.

There's just something about fall that I adore. The weather is finally cooler. The longer nights with brighter moons. The brilliant colors of the leaves.

Trees go through this massive change every year. First their delightful green leaves turn into brilliant oranges and yellows and reds. The beauty is spectacular. Walking through the forest is peaceful and awe-inspiring. 

You never hear trees say, "You know, I don't think I'm going to change this year. I like my leaves just the way they are." That doesn't happen. Because the trees somehow know that when they allow themselves to change, they become better. They become awesome.

And this awesomeness comes from being stretched. The result is absolutely stunning. Notice that the cooler weather only stretches the trees. It doesn't break them.

This is how we are as writers. We must be stretched. Challenged to learn more, be better. And what happens when we accept this challenge?

We're beautiful and absolutely amazing.

We can produce gorgeous colors and achieve great things.

What do you think? Have you grown as a writer when you've been challenged? Is the result as amazing as the fall foliage? Or have the stretches broken you?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Shrub Thing

Every single time I see or type the word "shrub" I smile. I cannot help myself. The lips just go up, no matter how hard I try to straighten them.

Saying it out loud causes a great bubbling of laughter to come up.

I love the word shrub. Love. It. It's true--I have a shrub thing.

Since I'm back at school (insert banshee-like wailing and gnashing of teeth here), I need a good laugh every single day. Or just something to smile about.

So I want your favorite word. What word just makes you smile to read? Write? Say out loud? I want it.

Other faves of mine: beaver. I mean, come on. Say it. I dare you not to smile. Maybe your boss will be walking by and hear you say "beaver," and then the ensuing laughter. That would be hilarious.

Another word I like to use: pertinent. Makes me sound very scholarly, don't you think?

So lay it on me. Don't be shy. Favorite words--spill! Spill! (BTW, did you notice the em-dashes? Jeesh.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Revision Stats

Okay, so it's no secret that I'm revising my novel. It went pretty well, actually. That's right, you read that as if the revisions were done. That's cuz they are. I have the MS out with my gamma's (thanks for the tip, Beth!) right now and I'll go over their notes one last time before I really throw my arms into the air and proclaim, "It is done!"

Here's some stats for you:
1. Words cut: 7000
2. Chapters completely rewritten: 3 (written into 4 new chapters)
3. 2-Liters of Ginger Ale consumed: 5
4. Packages of Red Vines thrown back: 2
5. Number of times "Single Ladies" played: 196
6. Number of times I re-watched GLEE (episode "Preggers") for inspiration. Yeah, for inspiration: 6
7. Hours of sleep lost: too many to count
8. Days without facebooking, twittering or blogging: 9
9. Books read: 5 (The Other Side of the Island, Catching Fire, Graceling, The Magic Thief, Evermore)
10. Revisions: brilliant (well, at least I think they are)

So there you have it. What are you working on right now? Do you have some stats to share? Me being the math geek, I'm all over the stats.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Are Awesome

Everyone needs someone to tell them how awesome they are. So today, that's me telling you, okay? Okay.

And here's why: Because we don't get told enough.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my students said, "Mrs. Johnson, you're awesome."

I smiled and said, "Hmm...I don't feel awesome."

And she stopped walking and just looked at me. "Well, you are."

Just like that. Like it was the simplest thing in the world. And that she couldn't believe that I wouldn't think I was as awesome as she thought I was.

So there.

You are awesome. Even if you don't feel like you are. You simply are. So take this badge, put it on your blog to remind yourself of your awesomeness and spread the awesome!

Monday, October 19, 2009

How I Choose To Live

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

~Nelson Mandela

This is how I choose to live. As a writer, I think it is especially relevant. Just like this quote, I often ask myself the question, "Why not me?"

So now I ask you: Why not you? Whatever it is you're aspiring toward right now, why not you? 

And how do you choose to live?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Break, How I Love Thee

So this week I covered editing, revising, writing rules, critique groups, and personal stuff. How'd the one liners work for you? Did you find you had just as much to say about revising without me going on and on about it? Yeah, that's what I thought.

I loved one liner week. Maybe I'll do it again someday. It's sort of like that Mike Myers sketch on Saturday Night Live where s/he'd throw out a topic and say, "Discuss."

So whaddya wanna talk about? It's Fall Break, and I'm milkin' it.

Oh, and if you need another blog to follow, and you know you do, then check out Lisa Amowitz who recently ventured into the blogosphere. She's a terrific YA author and fabulous friend.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

From the Query to the Call Sale!

My ebook, From the Query to the Call, is now on sale for the weekend!

Here's how it works:
1. Add the ebook to your cart. (At the top of this blog. Or this one. Or the website. Or here: Add to Cart

2. Enter the code: 25hoursale (No spaces, no period at the end.)

3. You get the ebook for $7.50 - 25% off!

4. Sale lasts from now - midnight Sunday. Tell your writerly friends.

Easy, peasy.

And I'm sort of under a deadline of sorts. So I'm still AWOL. But I'll be back next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In Which I Finish Answering All Your Deepest Questions

Okay, so here goes part two. Great questions! I hope life, the universe and everything is so much clearer after you've read my answers. *scoffage*

The Jocular Jenn asks: What time do you generally get out of your pajamas on Monday? Or should I say do you get out of your pajamas on Mondays?
M8BE: I totally get out of my PJ's on Monday. I have lunch to go to. Yes, I go to lunch every single Monday. It is a necessity. So usually around, uh, 11:30. Yeah, let's go with 11:30. That's AM, by the way.

At your house, is Lucky Charms "part of this complete breakfast," or is it just the whole breakfast like at my house?
M8BE: Wait. You feed your kids Lucky Charms? My kids would be going, "Lucky!" I feed mine stuff like Rice Chex or Wheat Chex. No sugar. And yeah, that's the whole breakfast. Is there more to a complete breakfast...? Of course there is. BACON.

The Luscious Lisa and Laura ask: Seth or Liam?
M8BE: Um, dudettes. Liam. Dark, sexy Liam? Ohhh, yeahhhh. The only thing that *might* improve Liam is a strange fascination with his hair... ROTFL!!

The Loony L.T. Elliot asks: I'd like to know what genre and age range you typically write for. I'd also like to know more about you in general. What's your favorite types of foods? Books? Movies?
M8BE: Okay, well, I'm a deep and varied person. (I almost typed that with a straight face.) I write YA speculative fiction--science fiction and fantasy. Anything paranormal. I love anything with bacon, potatoes, and barbeque sauce. I simply adore plain potato chips. I like MG and YA lit with a paranormal edge. If it has magic, all the better. Special gifts? Sign me up. Vampires? Yes. Ghosts? Yes. Funny, quirky characters? Yes. My all-time favorite is dystopian lit. Stuff like UGLIES and THE GIVER and THE HUNGER GAMES and THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. I simply can't get enough of that kind of stuff. As for movies, I like anything but horror. I have one rule: if it was made before I was born, I don't see it. The one exception: The Wizard of Oz, cuz that's a classic. Or so my DH says.

The Terrific Terresa asks: Ok, do you have a tattoo? (I'm guessing yes...and I'll tell you a little secret: I have one, it's a red rose on my lower back.)
M8BE: I don't. Mostly because of my insane fear of needles. And pain. And did you read that part yesterdat that said I was a straight arrow? Yeah, I sort of still am.

The Kute Katie asks: If you didn't write, what would you wanna do?
M8BE: Um, I don't know. That's a really hard question. Since I'm practically a rock star with my Guitar Hero, and I already teach, what about like world traveler? Yeah, that's totally it. I'd love to travel the world, taking pictures and seeing everything.

The Rejuvenating Jamie asks: Can you sing the Big Mac song without a second thought even though you haven't heard it in years?
M8BE: I can't! I can't believe I can't. And I'm a Big Mac lover. Le sigh. Food FAIL.

The Nebulous Nisa asks: Who in the world is Jesse McCartney?
M8BE: *jaw drops, no words* *shaking head sadly* Nisa, baby, you need to click on over to and type in Jesse McCartney. I love "Beautiful Soul" and "Leavin'". And a whole lot more. I like my Jesse McCartney station so much, I ran out of free hours this month. I guess you can only listen for 40 hours before you have to pay. Wait. That's not too many hours, right? Natch.

So there you have it. My life in a blog post. Well, and yesterday's post. And this one too. All right, maybe I am like the Mariana Trench. It's your call.

Anything I left out you're dying to know? Lay it on me.

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