Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays From Me to You!

Happy Holidays everyone! No matter what you're faith system I hope you have a joyful holiday season! I know we are.

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree! 

I've had so much fun this season wrapping gifts for everyone. Usually I hate gift wrapping, but this year it was different. Maybe just  buying my own wrapping paper made the difference, but who knows. This is also the first Christmas for Husband and Me. I'm so excited.

I can't wait for everyone to unwrap their gifts this year. The best gift Husband and I got for one another was our new baby bird!

 She's been with us for two weeks and is super adorable. She's about 12 weeks old and "peeps" along to the radio all the time. Getting her was an adventure. Husband and I drove almost two hours away to pick her up from the only parrotlet breeder in our state. We adventured out to the country side and went to a smaller sized house with over 25 birds, 3 cats, and 2 small dogs. They know how to raise baby birds though.

Beaker is such a clown. She loves to swing on her swing and nest into my hair and go to sleep.

She likes hanging out on Husband's shoulder while he studies and plays his video game.

Best gift ever.

So Husband, Baby Beaker and I wish you a happy holiday season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Writer's Conference Notes (Finally!!!)

Hey there readers. I know I know, I've been all MIA. Why? Intense work week. Good for my bank account but not as good for my blogging life.

So, I decided that I would do what I said (months ago) and tell you about the SCBWI conference I went to. I tried to take some pictures with my iPhone and be all awesome in my blogging, but the pictures turned out horribly.

However, here is a picture of my schedule of the days events and whatnot...

Overall the regional conference was pretty awesome. It was held at a high school near my apartment and people from our region came and hung out for the day. The fact that it was at a high school is important. Why? You may ask... Well because I am a young adult. 24. Not old. I look a lot younger. AND I was the youngest attende of the conference, by at least 10 years. Most of the people there were my parent's age or older. I'm pretty sure they all looked at me and were like, does she go to this school? No, ohhh... she's here for the conference. Yes, I got lots of weird looks.

At first it was really intimating. But then, when I went to hide and freak out in the bathroom, I realized something. I was lightyears ahead of these people. Sure, some of them were more experienced than me in lots of ways, but here I was, 40-10 years younger than them, and I was rocking it out along side them. I was a peer (or sorts) and I was badass.

And then it got even better. I went to my little workshops on how to get out of the slush pile and what literary agents look for and yes I learned a lot (which I will share with you here in a minute) but I also knew the answers to lots of questions that other people were asking. Why? Because I'm getting a MASTERS in creative writing. I get exposed to all sorts of information at school on this stuff. So bam! I was younger AND knew all kinds of info that others didn't. I felt like a little rockstar. Talk about getting some reassurance.

Here's what I learned from Lisa Yee (published author) and Alexandra Cooper (editor at Simon and Schuster)

  1. What really gave Lisa Yee a big push was going to a SCBWI conference and meeting people there. She said she felt like she "meet her tribe" there. (I know the feeling, but I get that more at school...)
  2. Lisa said, "Don't think, just write" (Something I need to do more often) and that she wrote her frist novel like it was an e-mail. It took the pressure off. 
  3. You really do need an agent if you want to get published
  4. Cooper said to find something that works and is working (something kind of popular ((not vampires!)) ) and then put a twist on it
  5. When your work doesn't get picked up by an editor it's not always your fault: the editor can only take on so many books at a time a may have signed something similar to yours already (and by similar it could just be genre or time of year that the book is going to be published aka picture book about chickens would come out around Easter and they might already have an Easter book)
  6. Tips: A) Do your homework: See what's getting attention and see what there's too much of and B) Aim your pitches for people who have done similar books... meaning check out the acknowledgments at the end of books, figure out who in the publishing world published a book similar to yours and then shoot for them
Did I find the conference helpful and awesome? Yes I did.

Would I go to another one? Hell yes.

It was scary and amazing all at the same time. I found my place and realized that I'm not like a lot of these second career/ hobby writers. I know the genre, I study it. I know things and I know what I want. I have put myself in different environments to get what I want. And yes, I will get a book published. It's just a matter of time. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing Advice

I am going to start this post out with a big long quote... I'm preparing you but you should still read it. It's a bit of awesome advice.

"It's like making a movie: All sorts of accidental things will happen after you've set up the cameras. So you get lucky. Something will happen at the edge of the set and perhaps you start to go with that; you get some footage of that. You come into it accidentally. You set the story in motion and as you're watching this thing begin, all these opportunities will show up. So, in order to exploit one thing or another, you may have to do research. You may have to find out more about Chinese immigrants, or you may have to find out about Halley's Comet, or whatever, where you didn't realize that you were going to have Chinese or Halley's Comet in the story. So you do research on that, and it implies more, and the deeper you get into the story, the more it implies, the more suggestions it makes in the plot. Toward the end, the ending becomes inevitable." 
~ Kurt Vonnegut (Nov 1985 issue of Writer's Digest)

I think that this one paragraph is some awesome advice. It speaks to me on so many levels. 

First, it says to me write. No matter what just write. If you just write and keep writing something might sneak into your story; something you didn't even think was important and that thing might unite your entire story. Sure, you will write a bunch of crap and fluff before you get there. But as long as you keep writing it will show up. You just have to watch out for it. Oooh... Like a four-leaf clover. 

Second, it tells me that your second, third, zillionth draft will require as much work and research as your first draft. While that might seem a bit depressing it should be fun. Sure, it'll be more work, but it'll make your story better. 

Third, it tells me that that saying "life if what happens when you're making plans" is applied to writing too. You might have the main plot all figured out, but that's not where the real story always it. 

So just go with it. Trust yourself. Trust your writing. And trust that you have something important to say. The story speaks to you, it might talk to you in another language sometimes and then you have to translate it, but it's always there.

Keep it up.

Friday, December 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo Is Gone and I Didn't Finish A Thing

National Novel Writing Month had come and gone for another year. Did I reach that 50,000 word count mark?


Did I come close?

Well... I think that's all in how you look at it.

Did I come close to that word count while working on my novel? No. But I did write a good bit this month - Mostly for my classes and then here some. So this year wasn't a total bust.

I think next year I'll go for it. Or maybe I'll dedicate my own month to writing 50,000 words. November can be a really hard month for lots of people. Also, I think I'll pick my month to be one with 31 days. Hey, every little bit counts.

Why didn't I get much done on my novel. Many reasons, some of them good, some of them not so good.

  • Work. My work schedule isn't always nailed down and it isn't always conducive to my creative times in the day. I am not a morning person, so working an eight-and-a-half hour day that starts at 6 am really zaps my energy
  • School. Yes, school is supposed to be helping me on this novel not hindering me, but taking two classes is kinda of big work load when you're working close to full time as well. 
  • Not living in my parents house. You don't realize it until you're gone, but living with your parents (at least mine) was kind of heavenly. My laundry was done, dinner was made, I had very few domestic worries. Now I do. And sure, I can put off doing the dishes for a night, but not much more than that.
  • Lazy... That one speaks for itself
  • And family stuff. You read (or maybe not) the posts on my Uncle. Depression kind of zaps the creativity out of me like waking up before the sun and loosing a family member like that brings about those storm clouds for sure.
  • Revision. I tend to get really bogged down in revising what I've already done. Which I think is silly. I need to finish the damn thing before I try to make it perfect (and it will never be perfect but you know what I mean.) 
So new plan. Now that I'm not going to be workshopping anything this next semester (but I will be working on a big research project - oh and did I mention it was on Harry Potter? Hell yes it is!) I will finish the novel. The first rough draft, before I go back to campus this summer.

But then again, my plans never really work out too well. I think I just need to take it one day at a time.