Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Things Thursday: Whatcha Watch

This week's theme is:

Three Things About What You Watch.

Now, this theme is primarily about things you watch on the TV, but I'm afraid I am going to have to deviate from that just slightly.


1.) I don't really watch TV. Apart from the occasional event-oriented show where the watching is in conjunction with a regular get-together (a-la American Idol with my parents), I find I simply can't make time for it. BUT if I did have time, I would watch The Office and Arrested Development, because they are both hilarious. I can sometimes make room for shows on DVD, which was how I watched LOST in college, and also how I fell in love with Flight of the Conchords and, yes, Sex & the City.

(photo source)

2.) I do, however, try to make time for movies. Because I love them. I tend toward the epic ones (see Teenage Three Things Thursday for more embarrassing information), the fairy tales, the artful ones, and the book-to-movie translations. The ones I can watch over and over are: The Princess Bride, LOTR, Pride & Prejudice, Harry Potter, Stardust, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Pink Panther (Peter Sellers), O Brother, Where Art Thou?, You've Got Mail, Finding Neverland, and Peter Pan.

(I have also been known to publicly sacrifice my dignity in order to gaze at Robert Pattinson's face for two hour stints in movie theaters and at home.)

3.) One of the primary reasons I don't make time for TV is because I spend so much time watching live home entertainment. Ophelia (my Muse Dog) and Severus (her cat) were both deposited on this earth by aliens because they were too weird for Outer Space, and therefore they tend to do very entertaining things.

Here are some:

This was a failed attempt to take a picture with Ophelia about two years ago. Last year I made matters worse by adding Severus to the mix.

He likes to dance. We're thinking of trying out for Dancing With Cats:

(In case you can't tell, that's us on the right. We're almost as good as the professionals on the left, though. Never you mind that I'm actually holding a ribbon to get him to dance...)

Frequently, these two wackos combine their oddities and go rocketing around the apartment in a frenzy of madness. As you might expect, there is very little need for television in the face of such entertainment. And then, of course, there are books the TV would have to contend with...

Your turn! Share what you watch. Do you prefer movies or TV, or maybe just the birds out the window? Or is reading and writing your mental TV? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing Soundtracks (Motley Monday)

Happy Monday, Dear Reader!

I hope your day is full of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.  Or at least a few cheerful smiles.

If you didn't catch it last week, Mondays are henceforth reserved on this blog for anything and everything--a blanket description which is conveniently (and intentionally) vague.  I'm calling this vagueness Motley Monday, which you can read more about here, if you feel so inclined.

Today I want to talk about music.  Specifically, music you listen to while writing.  (Or, if you happen to not be a writing type person, music you listen to while you're concentrating on something important.)

A few weeks ago, I participated in a #kidlitchat discussion on Twitter, which slowly evolved into a rabbit trail about writing with music.  Within this rabbit trail, an intriguing idea surfaced.  Several people voiced enthusiasm for tailor-made musical playlists for their projects.  Most of these writers listed bands and vocalists that particularly appealed to them depending on what they were writing, and the idea was that they created their own soundtracks for their books, assembling  a group of songs that enhanced the feeling of the story they were writing, while they were writing it.

Now, I personally cannot concentrate on my own words if someone else's are coming through my speakers, so I tend to avoid music with lyrics while I am writing.  I stick exclusively to classical music and orchestral movie scores.  But the concept remains the same, regardless of the type of music you are listening to. 

Create a soundtrack for your story to listen to while you write.

I've only done this once, while I was writing a short story set in Celtic Britain.  I pulled from the Tristan + Isolde soundtrack, the Braveheart score, and some Enya albums (who I do not find distracting), and thoroughly enjoyed the result.  But I haven't done it since, and now I begin to wonder why.  It's an enthralling idea.

So tell me: have you ever created a playlist for your WIP?  Have you found it to be a helpful excercise?

And if not, what do you listen to while you write?  Words or non-words? 

Here are a few of my favorites:

This is just one of the many mysteries of writerdom, and I think it's fascinating to hear what other people do.  Share yours! 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

{happy weekend quote}

"Come on!  Open your mouth and sound off at the sky!
Shout loud at the top of your voice, 'I AM I!'
ME!  I am I!
And I may not know why
But I know that I like it.
Three cheers!  I AM I!"

- Theodore Seuss Geisel

(I don't think you have to be a kid to love this one.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Inconstant Blogger and Motley Mondays

Turns out, I'm not very good at being consistent.  I mean, I can consistently brush my teeth in the morning, and walk my dog, and write, and (usually) remember to eat food when I'm hungry... but the blogging thing still isn't second nature.

In an effort to instill some consistency into my blogging self, I've devised a plan.  It's called:

Motley Mondays.

mot·ley[mot-lee]  adjective, noun, plural -leys.

1. exhibiting great diversity of elements; heterogeneous: a motley crowd.
2. being of different colors combined; parti-colored: a motley flower border.
3. wearing a parti-colored garment: a motley fool.
4. a combination of different colors.
5. a parti-colored effect.
6. the parti-colored garment of a jester.
7. a heterogeneous assemblage.
8. a medley.
1350–1400;  ME; see mote1 , -ly

1.  varied, mixed, incongruous.

The idea is that Mondays will be reserved for whatever I have floating around in my brain at the time of the post.  Naturally, I'll try and corral those thoughts into useful things--like links to good blog posts, book recommendations, beet recipes, gold nuggets, writerly quotes, etc.--but the idea is that there is no rhyme or reason to it all.  Now, be warned: sometimes strange things float around in my brain.  So you might encounter anything here on Motley Mondays.  But this plan guarantees me at least one post per week.  And it gets better.
I want YOU to be involved, too.  Any given Monday, if you find you have an incongruous assortment of things to share and you don't want to tie them all together into one coherent and artful entry, just show up here and post your link, and we'll all celebrate being Motley together.

So, with that being said, I'm going to share a few awesome things.

If you like bumper stickers and/or Harry Potter and/or Shakespeare, you should have a look at this sticker.  If I didn't already have a sticker of the Hogwarts crest on my back windshield, I think I'd buy this.,196686770

Also, if you are among the lucky humans on the continent who is currently experiencing that crisp and elusive season we call Autumn, or Fall, you might enjoy this scone recipe.  (Because scones are wonderful in the fall.)  I've made it a handful of times to good results, and since I am an incompetent cook, I think that makes it foolproof.

And if you've never been to Hyperbole and a Half to laugh your face off, I think now is a good time.  Mondays seem to need extra laughter, and this blog sure does provide.

Finally, I'd like to point out that we are exactly 41 days away from NaNoWriMo.  I'm excited.  How about you?  If you're planning to participate this year, do you know what you're writing about yet?  Do share!

Happy Monday!  I hope it is very motley indeed.  (Post your link in the comments if you have an entry you want to share.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Teenage Three Things Thursday

Today's Three Things Thursday is a great one for those of us who write YA and Teen lit.  The theme is: Three Things About Your Teenage Years.

I was a pretty dorky teenager.  I mean, I'm a pretty dorky 24 year-old, but my teenage years were full of me bumbling around trying to figure out a.) who I was, and b.) who I wanted to be.  So.  Here are my three things.

1.  I was obsessed--and I mean OBSESSED--with The Lord of the Rings.  The first movie got me hooked, and soon I was reading and re-reading the books, blaring the soundtracks nonstop, writing fanfiction (yeah, I did), doing Tolkien-themed English projects with gusto, scrap-booking, and even occasionally dressing up like an elf.  IN HIGH SCHOOL.  Like I said, huge dork.  The Return of the King film came out right around my birthday, and my best friend and I made shirts to go to the midnight showing.  I cried so hard at the end--no, WEPT so hard--that my little rocking movie chair was swinging like a carnival ride, and made it difficult for the poor souls behind me to exit the theater.

2. I played softball from elementary school up until my junior year of high school, which really throws people for a loop if they didn't know me at that time.  (I don't strike most people as being terribly athletic.)  But I was a pitcher, which worked well because I have these long, skinny arms which can be used as a kind of trebuchet or windmill, giving me all kinds of leverage.  By the time I quit playing, I was throwing that ball at sixty miles per hour.  Pretty good for an un-athletic clumsy girl.

3.  More pertinently, sixteen was the age I first started writing in earnest.  I remember sitting with my best friend in one of our new (old, junky) cars, telling her about all the stories I had in my head, and how I would play them out like movies as I was falling asleep at night, and daydream about them in class. 

Instead of calling me crazy, she looked at me and said, "Why don't you write them down?"

I think I laughed.  Me?  Write books?  Of course, I'd done that in elementary school, but that was different.  This would be trying to write a real book.  Well, I tried it.  I wrote in notebooks until I could afford a laptop, and then transcribed and edited all the way up through my freshman year of college.  That book, naturally, will never see the light of day, but it was my tricycle.  It was what taught me to write, and showed me how much I loved it.    

What about you?  What things stand out to you from your teenage years?  How did they shape the person you are now?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ode to Aspiring Writers

I have to say, sometimes it sucks to be a writer.

Let me clarify.

Sometimes, when you realize who you are (a person who writes books), and what you are doing (trying to get published), and that you could not stop even if you wanted to, AND THAT IT IS REALLY EFFING kind of sucks.


Unless you realize you are not alone.

I was just pondering what we do, we pre-published writers. (It's really an insane thing, when you think about it.) First, we discover that we have a story to tell, and we decide we want to tell it. So we think for a while, and try to work out the best way to go about it. We name characters, we outline detailed plot charts, we develop character-arcs, we undertake the mind-boggling task of getting to know PEOPLE WHO DO NOT EXIST. We invent worlds.

We string together words to make sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters. We watch the words fight, and then we sweat and bleed to make them dance, instead. We battle with our characters to get them to cooperate with our plans. We cry when we realize we are morons. We laugh in the shower and in public places when we understand we are also geniuses. We revise. Rewrite. Polish. Cut out our hearts and give the story to someone else to read.

We revise. Rewrite. Polish.

Usually seized by some unforeseen fit of madness, we draft one of those infamous and horrifying things called a Query Letter. This we send to a select list of elusive Demigods called Literary Agents. We spend days, weeks, sometimes months waiting in a prolonged state of anxiety, experiencing both crippling doubt and wild hope. When we log on to our email or check the mailbox, it is with such terror and pulse-pounding that we begin to fear a loss of hair, or an ulcer.

We get replies. They include nasty words like, "unfortunately," and "subjective", and "however." We cry, we mope, we consider giving up. (And for some sick, unfathomable reason, we save our rejection letters.) Then...

We revise. Rewrite. Polish.

We resubmit. We begin to wonder about things like sanity, and careers in Postal work. We get rejected some more.

Eventually, though, good things begin to happen. Like requests for partial manuscripts, and further requests for full manuscripts. Sometimes, these requests are made by agents we REALLY REALLY love. We walk around in a starry daze. We get rejected.

We revise. Rewrite. Polish.

It is insane, what we do. Because, at this point, the only reason IN THE WORLD we are doing it is because we believe in ourselves, and in our stories. Nobody's paying us. In fact, we're sacrificing a lot in order to do it. We're carving out chunks of time in obscure places, giving up sleep, omitting the extra fun stuff that normal people take for granted. And sometimes, it can feel endless and hopeless.

But that's where not being alone comes in.

So, listen: I believe in us. I believe in YOU, writer. No matter how many people wave their print-on-demand books in your face and say publishing is easy, no matter how many relatives and acquaintances smirk when they ask about your "little hobby," no matter how many times you have to answer doubtful questions after someone asks what you do for a living... I believe in you, and I believe in what you do.

And I believe that someday, all this determination and hard work will pay off. Keep writing.

Any thoughts? Anything getting you down in your journey lately? Or maybe making you hopeful? Share!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Look in Thy Heart and Write

A few quick things.

1.) It is September!  I don't love fall as much as spring on principle (winter inevitably follows fall, and I hate winter), but I have to admit that I'm giddy with the approach of autumn this year.  Crisp weather.  Apple pastries.  Pumpkins.  Jazz music.  Tea.  Mmmm.  So let's celebrate September!

2.) I've got some serious tunnel-vision at the moment--due to my own self-enforced revision deadline--but I wanted to break out of it for a moment to share a quote that has endlessly inspired me over the years.

"Biting my trewand pen, 
beating myself for spite,
'Fool,' said my Muse to me, 
'Look in thy heart and write!'"
-Sir Philip Sidney

I don't know what you're up to today, or this week, or this freshly-minted September, but if you're working on anything that isn't slipping onto the page as easily as an oily fish, I hope you'll take Sidney's Muse's advice.  Today, tomorrow, whenever you find time to work on that little chunk of your soul that you've translated into words and plunked line by line onto the page, I hope you'll look in thy heart and write.  Because that is, of course, where the best of our work comes from.  It's so obvious, and yet so easy to forget.   

Happy Thursday, dear Reader, and Happy September!