Wednesday, May 23, 2012

BMM: The Big X

May I ask you a question?

Have you ever put one of these guys in your manuscript?

Honest moment: I used to mentally balk at people who would do that. My elitist self would think, Just work through it, people!  I mean, that’s the motivation for me. I know where I want to go and I want to get there and usually that’s what pushes me through the hazy, unclear spots.

That was before Franken-novel. Before I became a nonlinear writer. Before the days when I wrote my black moment before the midpoint. Let’s just say Alison had a few a lot of Xs in her first draft of the current WIP.

But I even rationalized that as a first draft occurrence. No way was I leaving Xs in the second third draft. I was going to push through difficult scenes. I was going to work on them until my brain bled. I was not leaving any scene unfinished!

*cough* whatever *cough*

Rewind to January—Alison’s broken through several barriers, climbing over walls that had been overwhelming obstacles. Massive wall number one was a poem that occurred early on in my story. The girl who knows she’s not a poet slaved over lines and entire stanzas, making sure the meter was just right. Making sure it made sense. I sent countless versions to a critique partner, revised, sent again. I finally got what I wanted and moved on. Then, I hit a standstill at chapter eight, worked on it for a week before I was happy with it. Moved on.

No Xs for me! I thought. I’m going to beast this, er…beast.

But then I got to a scene I knew I needed to write. I knew what it would entail. I knew the conflict and the resolution. I had a beginning and an end. I just had to write the middle.

And I couldn’t do it.

You see, it involved poetry—not just me writing a poem— but interpretation of poetry. And I needed to choose the perfect lines from a poem that would be perfect for what my characters needed and wanted to do.

The scene also involved something else that I knew would be, um…extremely challenging to write.

I felt overwhelmed. I can’t do this. The scene was too big for me.

And after weeks of staring at the screen, after frustration and self-loathing, after sorting through countless stanzas of Paradise Lost. After five different documents of brain spew and back and forth emails with a critique partner, I just…I just had to move on.

And guess what went in my manuscript?

Yep. *hides head in shame*

But really. I look at it this way. I can get hung up for two months over one scene or I can move on and chink away at it when I’m mentally and writerly* strong enough. And that’s what I did. I worked on a stanza here, an uncomfortable moment there. And finally, by the beginning of March, I was able to take that X out of my manuscript.

And put a new one in two weeks ago. J

And I’m totally cool with that. Because, you know what? Eventually that big X will come out. When I'm writerly ready.

So, how about YOU? Ever put the big X in your manuscript?

* writerly is totally a word. Well, it is now. ;)

Friday, May 18, 2012

BMM: Friday Fun

So, wonder where I’ve been? Yeah, me too. Alison really knows how to put the MAYBE in Blog me MAYbe.

Sorry. I could blame my non-existent blogging on my over-crazed schedule or my revisions or something, but I always blog through my insanity. I don't ever get in one of those funks where you're so overwhelmed by everything that you just don't feel like doing ANYTHING? That's been me. Anyway, I’m back. Maybe. For today at least anyway. And since today’s Friday, the question is

May I share something funny?

I don’t have anything funny, but I do have something FUN. When I shared Sara’s Blog Me, MAYbe idea with my teenage daughter(still can’t believe I have one of those) and how the title came from the song, Call me Maybe, she started listening to the song all the time

Catchy, right? Yeah, that’ll be in your head all day.

And she immediately began drafting her own version of Call Me Maybe. She calls it Blog Me, Maybe. Here are the lyrics.

I threw a wish in a well

Don’t ask me I’ll never tell

I looked at your blog as it fell

And now it’s in my way

I’d trade my blog for a wish

Pennies and dimes for this

I wasn’t looking for glitz

And now it’s in my way

Those words were holdin’

Funny pictures, captions showin’

Witty titles, they were glowin’

Where you think you’re goin’ baby?

Hey, I just followed you

And this is crazy

But here’s my URL

So blog me, maybe?

It’s hard to look right

At this baby

But here’s my URL

So blog me maybe

Isn’t she awesome?! And…AND she sends me pics like this

I know, I know – you ALL want a daughter as awesome and cool and FUN as mine. Sorry, she’s taken.

What FUN do you have planned this weekend?!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BMM: Tune Tuesday

MAY I tell you something about myself?

Today, I get to tell you something(s) about myself, and to do that I snagged this cool Tune Tuesday survey from the fabulous Katy Upperman,* answered it, and am now sharing the results with you!

1. What are your three favorite songs right now? What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction, Eyes Open by Taylor Swift (the Hunger Games version STILL gets me all choked up), and ALWAYS Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds.

2. What is the most played song on your iTunes? Like a G6 by Far East Movement. I know—I was shocked too, but I play my clubbin’** music when I walk so I guess this is a good thing?

3. What song are you listening to right now? Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad by Def Leppard. I’ve had it on my WIP playlist forever, but it just really clicked as to how perfect this song is for my story. The answer to question #2 will change by June.

4. What was the last album you bought? Umm…like a real album? I think the last CD I bought was the Sex and the City soundtrack. I choreographed and performed a tap dance to Fergie’s Labels or Love for a talent show at my school. And yes, that’s all I will say about that.

5. What was the last concert you went to? Big Time Rush and One Direction. I so wanted to jump up and sing with my daughter and her bff, but I opted for not embarrassing my daughter on her thirteenth birthday and morphed into boring parent person for most of the show.

6. What was the first album you ever bought? Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger. In high school, The Reflex was one of my favorite songs, and I bought countless Tiger Beat magazines for pin ups of Simon le Bon (and C Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio and…)

7. What was the last single you downloaded? We are Young by Fun. It’s top forty, but the music style transports me back three decades.

8. Favorite artist or band? Right now? Katy Perry. A consistent favorite? Journey.

9. What’s your favorite musical genre? Classic Rock. I like top forty too, but Def Leppard***? Van Halen? Journey? There’s something about the seventies and eighties that just screams, Come on, baby, light my fire.

10. Quote one of your favorite lyrics:

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I’m not a Miley fan, but man, I love The Climb.

So, there you have it! All about Alison and her tunes. Why don't YOU take the survey too? Or answer one of the questions in the comments? Come on...I know you want to!

*Katy ALWAYS has these super cool surveys and ideas. I could write a month's worth of posts off her prompts! If you're not following her, you should be!

**Alison says clubbin’ like she’s actually been in the past ten twenty years.
***Okay, so technically Def Leppard is METAL. It's still rock and roll to me.

Monday, May 7, 2012

BMM: Inspiration is for Amateurs

May I share something about writing?

Not going to lie. There are days I have to force myself to write. Yeah, I know. I should be inspired all the time to do the thing I love to do. I used to think there was something wrong with me. Then I heard this

The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.
(Chuck Close - American artist)

This quote made me realize that writing, art, anything really requires maybe 10 percent inspiration and another hundred and ten percent perspiration. To me, writing is how I am about exercise. Some days I’m on fire and want to zoom outside for a walk. Other days, I have to really talk myself into physical activity. But most days, I do it anyway. And when I’m done, I feel so, so GOOD.

How about YOU? What are YOUR thoughts on inspiration? Have any rough days? What do you do to get through it?

Friday, May 4, 2012

BMM: May the Fourth Be With You

MAY I share something funny?

Did you know today is Star Wars Day? And in the spirit of May Fourth, I’m sharing random lines from Episodes IV, V, and VI—a hearty dose of TWSS (or TWHS) for any Star Wars fan. Enjoy.

Look at the size of that thing!

You've got something jammed in here real good.

At that speed do you think you'll be able to pull out in time?

I must've hit it pretty close to the mark to get her all riled up like that, huh, kid?

Possible, he came through the south entrance.

I thought that hairy beast would be the end of me

There's an awful lot of moisture in here

There is good in him, I've felt it.

Get in there, you big furry oaf, I don't care what you smell!

Back door, huh? Good idea!

Grab it, almost got it. Gently now, alright, easy, easy...

Hurry up, golden-rod

Hey, point that thing someplace else!

I know—I’m terrible. And I personally will never watch Star Wars movies the same way again.

Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

BMM: Team Dave

MAY I tell you something about someone else?

I’m going to use Thursdays to tell you about other writers, about characters from my favorite books, maybe, maybe about my own imaginary friends, but today I wanted to tell you a few things about the most important person in my life. He’s my staunchest supporter, my best friend, and the one who absolutely completes me.

Eighteen years ago, we got together at a minor league baseball game. He won a screaming contest and consequently won my heart. Here’s a little more on how he wins me over on a daily basis.

Never a dull moment—at work, at home. You NEVER know when he’s serious about something or not. He convinces every new batch of freshman that there’s a swimming pool in the basement of his high school (there’s not even a basement) He takes legs off the other teachers’ desks. Kidnaps prized bathroom passes and holds them for ransom. He orchestrates the most elaborate pranks on kids, teachers. And yes, sometimes even me. He keeps your morale up, even if his is at an all time low.

His motto for his soccer teams (for life) is BELIEVE. Believe in yourself, believe in each other. Believe in your dreams. He not only teaches his kids soccer skills, he inspires them to achieve excellence. And instills incredible volumes of confidence in them.

Kids, adults, everyone LOVE him. And rightfully so.

We can’t go anywhere without running into someone he knows. Not the grocery store. Not Myrtle Beach. Not even St. Augustine, Florida. It’s slightly annoying, but mostly endearing.

He doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind when it comes to advocating for his kids. Or anything else he believes in.

He’s a bigger kid than I am. He wears pleather pants and a fake mullet on eighties day. He proudly sports a red Mohawk with his boys soccer team. He roughs it up with our son, plays Wipeout with both kids, Dance Central with all of us. Okay, so maybe sometimes Aidan runs and cries to Mommy after he loses a wrestling match. Yeah, my husband unmercifully teases our daughter and her friends. But he also reads with Aidan or spent an hour online the day the Big Time Rush tickets went on sale to get McKenzie tickets for her birthday. And he always tries to see at least part of if not all of their soccer games. He’s an amazing dad.

He has five tattoos. The only thing I don’t like about this is he has one more than me. And yes, we are VERY competitive about everything. No worries. Usually healthy competition. Usually. (I’m still taking revenge out on the Scrabble board for the times he brought me to tears playing RISK. )

When he has to go away for a few days, he leaves me notes on all the mirrors that say

He doesn’t just buy me one card for our anniversary (or Mother’s Day or my birthday or whatever), he buys two…sometimes three. And he spoils me rotten on those occasions too.

He reads my work, listens to my brain spew, helps me figure out those murky scenes in my stories. Heck, he pretty much gave me the ending to one of my projects. And he just genuinely supports my writing. He doesn’t always understand all the other stuff I do in conjunction with that, but the writing? Probably one of my biggest cheerleaders.

Is my husband a saint? The perfect man? Uh…no. He’s gone a lot with soccer. Our yard jungle can go weeks months without being mowed. He needs two walk-in closets for all his clothes. He loves country music. But those things? Those are trivial matters.

Big picture - my husband just genuinely cares about others. And about me. And he’s usually very selfless in doing so. Unconditional love. We all know how I feel about that. I might be Team Peeta or Team Edward when it comes to books, but in reality, I’m Team Dave—all the way.

So, there’s a little bit on my soul mate. Who’s the most important person in YOUR life?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

BMM: What Faction are YOU?

So, read Insurgent yet? The sequel to Divergent by Veronica Roth hit the shelves yesterday and Alison has a shiny new copy just waiting to be read. (May I have those extra five hours in my day now please?) Divergent’s dystopian Chicago is divided into five factions, and when teenagers reach a certain age, they are tested to see which faction they should choose to live with and devote their lives to. Those five factions include

Abnegation: The Selfless

Amity: The Peaceful

Erudite: The Intelligent

Dauntless: The Brave

Candor: The Honest

Last year I took the Faction quiz to see which faction I should belong to, and my best match?


The Person Most Likely to Be Afraid of Everything decided to take the quiz again. And again.

Yep. Still Dauntless.

I really thought I’d be Amity. Or Erudite. Even maybe Divergent. But Dauntless? Fearless and Undaunted?

And then I read the dictionary definition of undaunted in Veronica Roth’s Divergent Dictionary.

Undaunted: courageously resolute, especially in the face of danger or difficulty; not discouraged

Dauntless is the faction that values courage.

Yeah, okay. That sounds more like me.

Today’s Blog Me MAYbe question is “MAY I ask something about you?” In the spirit of Insurgent’s release, I ask you

What faction do you think you’d be steered to choose? Do you think you would be Divergent? And have YOU read Insurgent? (please no spoilers in the comments)

PS - I am also Hufflepuff and District 1. You can add Harry Potter and Hunger Games choices to your answer too!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blog Me, MAYbe: MAY I tell you something about myself?

Welcome to the first day of Blog Me, MAYbe, a blogfest that is the genius brainchild of the fabulous Sara McClung, one in which you can choose to blog every week day in the month of May (or as often as you would like) following this schedule:

Monday: MAY I tell you something about writing?

Tuesday: MAY I tell you something about myself?

Wednesday: MAY I ask something about you?

Thursday: MAY I tell you something about someone else?

Friday: MAY I share something funny?

FUN! You don't have to blog every day. You don't even have to sign up. But you can. Click here for the linky on Sara's blog.

Today's Tuesday, and since I just finished up the A-Z blogfest, and since my writer friend Katy Upperman shared about herself in A-Z fashion and encouraged us to do the same, I thought I'd use today to go A-Z, all about me. Enjoy.

A is for age: Care to take a guess? I’ll reveal at the end of the post.

B is for breakfast today: Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Cream Cheese. Or a Pop Tart. Such healthy living.

C is for currently craving: It’s 6 AM. I don’t really crave anything but coffee at this hour.

D is for dinner tonight: Cici’s Pizza, fundraiser night for Aidan’s school. A cheap alternative for parents on the go. And my kids like it. Mom does too.

E is for favorite type of exercise: Tap dancing. I’ve taken lessons since I was four, and this is the first year in a while that I’ve not been in a class. I miss it. 

F is for an irrational fear: Driving over bridges and thinking I’m just going to drive off of one.

G is for gross food: Anything with red meat. Blech.

H is for hometown: I grew up in Douglassville, Pennsylvania. Tiny dot on the map an hour west of Philly, twenty minutes east of Reading. Right next to Amityville. And no, not the one from the horror movie.

I is for something important: My family. Some days I wish I could do nothing else but hang out with them.

J is for current favorite jam: Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad by Def Leppard. Beyond perfect for my current WIP.

K is for kids: McKenzie (13) and Aidan (7). Click on their names if you want to know more about them.

L is for current location: My dining room aka pseudo-office.

M is for the most recent way you spent money: Paying bills. Boo.

N is for something you need: About five ten fifteen more hours in the day?

O is for occupation: Wife, Mommy, Writer, Teacher/Tutor. I have prioritized that list with my heart. Unfortunately, my daily agenda dictates a different order.

P is for pet peeve: Misspelling. But just for me. I can tolerate the most horrid butchering of words by other people, but I can’t send a text or an email unless I’ve triple-checked the spelling.

Q is for a quote: Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today. (James Dean)

R is for random fact about you: I love Eeyore. My collection could fill up a Disney store. Possibly even Tomorrow Land.

S is for favorite healthy snack: Grapes. Juicy green ones especially.

T is for favorite treat: York Peppermint Patties

U is for something that makes you unique: I have this tattooed on my leg, in a Bernoulli spiral.

It’s Latin for I arise the same though changed. Jakob Bernoulli had it engraved on his tombstone. Who is Jakob Bernoulli? Swiss mathematician famous for his contributions to Calculus, logarithms, probability. He also made great contributions to my first writing project.

And yes, this does further support the theory that I am the world’s biggest nerd.

V is for favorite vegetable: Asparagus—yeah, I know. I’m weird.

W is for today’s workout: Walking up the stairs in my house? Sad, I know. It’s about all I get some days.

X is for X-rays you’ve had: Of my foot—fractured when I tried to carry my then four year old daughter down a set of wooden stairs that were just a little unstable.

Y is for yesterday’s highlight: Two of the students I tutor made 95s on their tests. My husband made curry chicken for dinner. And then we had that rare moment of everyone eating dinner at the same time around the same table (even if that table was the coffee table).

It’s the little things.

Z is for your time zone: Eastern.

Now, MAY I encourage YOU to do your own A-Z share? Let me know if you do one (or have already done one) in the comments. I'll definitely check it out!

Oh yeah, that age thing: You'll have to work for it.

My age = the number of Wonders of the Ancient World times the number of sides on a stop sign minus the ides of March.

It's 41. Did you guess correctly?