The Chill in the Air

Christmas is about stories. The stories you make into memories with friends and family, those you read in scriptures to highlight the reason for the season, and the sometimes funny or heartwarming tales of winter that can be found in books of all sizes.

Rather than focusing on presents, for the weeks leading up to the special day my kids look forward to reading and hearing their beloved holiday books that we keep displayed under our tree. Each year they rediscover their favorites and enjoy new books in the collection.

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What is one of your special Christmas traditions?

Turbo Charged

Good movies are fun to watch. They can be inspiring, emotional, or even just entertaining. I tend to love movies that are all of the above—laughter, tears, and cheering on the characters are what make watching movies (and reading) enjoyable.

One movie I adore is Turbo.

Yes, the movie about a racing snail.

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What makes it work? Nostalgic (to me) So Cal flavor, the underlining theme of never giving up (ridicule, injuries, and mishaps can’t stop him), voice talents of Paul Giamatti and Samuel L. Jackson, plus the whacked-out soundtrack (it almost makes my iPod on Shuffle look tame). Almost.

Haven’t watched it? Then you’re missing lines like:

• Yeah, I’m crazy! What made you think I was sane?

• No dream is too big, and no dreamer is too small.

• What happens if you wake up tomorrow and your powers are gone?

Then I better make the most of today.

Now it’s time for me to “snail up!” and get back to edits.

What’s your favorite movie line?

It Happened, Again

Writing is tough. I spend hours writing a page or two, which will have to be edited and reworded in the future.

Writing is exhilarating. The feeling of freedom when my hands are almost moving as quick as my brain is fleeting, but so worth working toward.

The “fast draft” that I completed last month was a compilation of many of both types of moments. (Reminder: fast for me is six months, from conception to finished first draft. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo many times, but it’s not for me.) Upon beginning my edits, I notice I’m still making a lot of the same mistakes that have plagued me for decades.

Prime example: My main character is flat, and suffering from perfection syndrome, while my secondary characters are multi-faceted and promote more emotional attachment from early readers. The initial analysis for doing this is that I think of myself as a secondary character in life and relate better to those not in the spotlight, so I naturally attach myself as a writer to those on the sidelines. From a craft standpoint, I’m wondering if I have the story wrong. Maybe I need to switch my point-of-view (POV) character.

This happened with CORRODED. My main character, Mary, didn’t evoke a connection to many beta readers (and was even annoying to some) while every reader loved her sidekick Ben. (Yes, there’s a group of “Team Ben” readers out there.) What resulted, during something like the twentieth draft, CORRODED became a dual POV story, with alternating Ben and Mary chapters. And I have a sneaking suspicion that if I look at the manuscript again, it might become all about Ben. (Go ahead and squeal, ladies!)

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Rather than freezing while I berate myself for fouling up yet another story, I remind myself of this quote by William Faulkner, “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” So, back to the drawing board with THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS.

In the meantime, do you think character POV issues are more often emotional or craft related?

What Grows in Family Trees?

We are being watched and someone will want to model us—especially if there are children in our home.
Fortunately, the most recent habit of mine that has been chosen by one of my kids is harmless. At least, I like to think it is. Returning readers will recognize the following image:

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For those unfamiliar, that is Fernando, my literary muse of sorts. While growing wild on the water oak in my backyard, it still needs regular watering during dry spells to stay fresh. Living in the south, I see hundreds of live oaks with branches blanketed by ferns and moss, but this little guy I’ve watched from birth, so to speak. With each passing month, even during the ice storm this winter, he’s managed to thrive and grow.

Yes, the correlations between Fernando and my literary endeavors are endless, but I didn’t know my watering and regular picture taking have been noticed, but then my youngest drew this:

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She proudly pointed out the fern growing near the base of the tree, just like “Mommy’s fern.” I was touched, and humbled by the reminder that whatever I do, my kids will take it to heart. Here’s to the hope of inspiring nature and creativity!

What’s the oddest thing a child has copied from you?

Goodie Package

This past weekend I got a surprise in the mail. A REALLY good surprise, like fangirl/geek-out-time fabulous. It might not look like much to you, but for this Book Nerd, it was like striking the mother lode. 000_0382 What is it? That’s a personally addressed and signed form letter, postcard for a new release, and signed book plate from one of my favorite authors, AVI. Why was this envelope of awesome such a big deal? For one thing, it was unexpected. I didn’t write to him or ask for anything. What I did do was enter to win one of ten copies of an ARC (advance reader copy) for his 2015 release, CATCH YOU LATER, TRAITOR, from his website. When he posted the winners on the blog a few weeks ago, I immediately forgot about it because I wasn’t listed. But Avi, being the awesome writer that he is, sent these thank-you-for-reading packets to everyone who entered but did not win a book. He didn’t tell those who entered, didn’t blog about, he just did it. Awesome way to pay-it-forward, and it’s fantabutitus. And now my second favorite novel of all time proudly wears a signed bookplate. Maybe I’ll get it personalized one day. 000_0384 Which book do you own that you’d like to see autographed, or is it already signed?

Junk Draft

I did it!

I finished the dreaded first draft of my new project from conception to completion in six months. In the past, the quickest I’ve written one was a year, and that was when I was in high school. Most recently, it took about eighteen months, but that doesn’t include the several years of research I did before the writing actually began.

What was the difference this time around?

Well, I gave permission to “let it go.” I allowed my writing to be less than perfect just to get it down. Yes, it’s something I’ve read about many times: everyone’s first draft is junk. I’d like to think my first drafts weren’t too bad, but then again, pouring over them for a year—or two or three—makes for lots of little edits before completion. (And, yes, they were all still edited dozens of times after that.)

This time, the story is there in all its ugly glory. 100_6421

I used to think the first draft was the hardest and revision/editing the easiest, but this time around, I believe my opinion will change. I’ve got my work cut out for me when I mend THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS.

How do you write: quick and messy or slow and ponderous?

Vacation from Reality

Vacations are great. They’re so nice, sometimes I need a break from real life after a vacation—the old “I need a vacation to recuperate from my vacation” situation. That’s about what happened, but now I’m here, and this week marks my first full one back in the old routine.
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Boring, you might think, but it’s not so. Structure is a good thing in my house, as highly sought after as a trip to “The most magical place on earth.” When living with autism, there needs to be a sense of balance in day-to-day life. My oldest son loves his wall calendar. He needs to know when to expect certain activities and send reinforcements if the month doesn’t have a “Play Date” listed at least once. Our schedule might not be as hectic as yours, but both he and I need to know where we’re going in the days ahead, even if it’s just a “work” and “play” day at home.
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Where does all this talk lead me? To the realization that even though I didn’t finish the first draft of my current work-in-progress, THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS, before leaving on vacation like I wanted to, I will finish by the end of this month. That might be a big leap for some, but hang in there. When (not if) I complete this draft, it will be my quickest completion to date. Granted it will also be my shortest manuscript, but taking a full story from idea to finished first draft in six months is amazing for this writer.

More on this forth coming miracle in the next two weeks, for now, let’s savor in the vacation memories.
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Where have you gone lately?