Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Obligatory Year End Blog Post OR Eddie Vedder is Swoonable

I'm trying to find a nice way to tell this year goodbye without sounding like I'm too excited for the arrival of 2016.  Really, it's not like I despised 2015, I didn't/don't.  I'm not even sick of it.  I actually kind of liked 2015.  But the calendar is the way it is, and 2016 is going to be here no matter how fond I was/am of 2015.  And 2015 will be no more.  I'm fine with this.

So back to my struggle.

This week between Christmas and New Year's when you have no idea what day it is, the date is irrelevant, and you probably ate too many peanut butter sandwiches while you were attempting to figure it out.  This last bit is especially troubling if you, like me, just recently found out about your new life stipulation that wheat and dairy be eradicated from your diet.

But it just drags on.  This never ending week of posts from friends and coaches and colleagues titled things like "Closure and Cloister, Ten Lessons You Should Have Learned in 2015;" "Call to Action: What 2016 Needs From Your Digestive Tract;" "The Coming Trend of Eyelash Removal and the Brave Pioneers Behind It;" and my personal favorite "Failing at Flailing: Your Inner Fangirl's Loss of Nerdido." <-- (a nerd's libido, obvs).

I'm just ready for it to be done.  Goodbye, 2015, it's been a real slice.  But let's get on with it, shall we?  

What is this last week of lamenting all about?  Think about it?  We do it every year.  Okay, not we You.  You do it every year.  I don't do it every year because, frankly, I'm kind of a jerk and half the time I don't notice that the year is on its way out until is over and done and it's calling me asking if nothing we shared ever meant anything to me.  I hang up and roll my eyes at the obvious wrong number and feel bad for the poor bastard who has to deal with that clingy handful.  When it's over, it's over, am I right?

*clears throat*

It's statements like the above that are the reason people cry when I talk, isn't it?

Moving on.

Why all of the emotional attachment to a numerical based system of measuring the passage of time?  Every January is the same:  "This year is MY year!" and it ends the same:  "Screw last year!  Last year was the worst!"

Hate to break it to you, but you're kind of being a little bit slutty with your years.  Maybe if you treated them the way you want to be treated, you wouldn't feel so devastated at the end when it dawns on you that it's just a number and is not, in fact, an all powerful Oz promising to make your dreams come true.

I spend this week rolling my eyes a bit and trying to figure out how I can cram one more gluten free cookie baking session into my daily life without drawing a lot of attention to myself.  And also, planning a birthday (he's turning five this year. Star Wars the theme).

Stop putting so much pressure on the year to do and be great things for you.  Do and be great things for yourself.  That's right, I said it.  Do it FOR YOU.  The year doesn't matter, it's a way to mark off the passage of time and remind you to pay your bills so that you don't freeze to death in February when winter finally shows up (it's coming. it always does).

Say goodbye to 2015 with a blown kiss and a jazzy wave.  Have your party if you must, but curb your hatred.  If 2015 let you down, that's on you.  Maybe your New Year's Resolution should be to place less responsibility for your emotional happiness on a Stardate, yeah?  Maybe, just maybe, this year *rolls eyes so hard it hurts* you take control of your life and make it yours.

Yeah.  I like the feel of that.  This life is mine.  The dates don't matter except to mark the beginning and end on my gravestone of where I started and stopped.  

But the in between is mine.



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Running Through the Next Field

Every month I have an anthem.  I play it loud and I sing it louder— much to the dismay of my child and neighbors.  I am not a good singer.  And more often than not, I really play up that fact by doing my best Adam Sandler and/or Fat Albert impression at the same time.

October begins in two day (less than that at this point), and I'm already singing that month's anthem.

Before I tell you what it is, let's talk about what happened this month.

I released BRAND NEW SKY into the wild.

It's the sixth and final book in the Double Blind Study series.  It wasn't an easy book to write.  So it's completion was both a relief and a heartbreak for me.  I didn't want it to be over with.  This entire series was a big deal for me.  Huge, in fact.

I've told the story many times about how and when and why I started writing, so there's really no need to go over that again.  But this series was the beginning of something new.  It was me finally getting those stories out there, instead of keeping them to myself. 

Sharing the adventure.

So many of you joined me along the way and I will never stop being equal parts grateful, shocked, and humbled.

As BRAND NEW SKY made it's way into ereaders worldwide a couple weeks ago, I was struck by the fact that this was the least stressful book release ever for me.  I had an awesome team helping me get things sent to bloggers and readers, and an amazing support system that kept my head focused and didn't let me get overwhelmed.  I normally freakout the night of a release by drinking wine and eating chocolate.

Not this time.

This time, I was writing.

Because the next story begs to be told and I wouldn't dare to silence it.

So, while the release wasn't stressful, that doesn't mean that there wasn't/isn't still some very strong emotions attached to it.  

Because the series is done, and now it's a new beginning.

I'm running.  Towards the next story, into the next adventure.  Completely and totally clueless how it's going to turn out and I'm not scared.

I have this song pounding itself into my head and heart.  The anthem of things to come.  The song that's currently annoying my neighbors. => Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

I suppose this is what I get for falling in love with an explorer.  He makes me unafraid to chase down the dawn of the next dream.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hell Yeah, I Rememeber Aurora

Photo belongs to Roswell Films/ HBO

The above quote is from me.  I said those words out loud to myself a few months ago and then added it to that stunning picture of Dave Grohl they kept using in the Sonic Highways promos.

I was in the middle of writing Sway and Ryan's story.  I was just at the part where they're really getting to know each other.  That fun, happy, you-know-good-and-well-it-can't-last stage.  And I was falling in love with them.

It was Dave's fault.

It's always his fault.

Every time I fall in love, he's playing the soundtrack in the background.

And I fall in love every time.

Each book I think that this couple will be the one, the ultimate couple.  I will love them the most and no one will ever replace them.  Then I get to the next story and the next soundtrack and it starts all over again.

Maybe that's just the way it has to be.  Maybe I can't honestly write their story unless I'm fully invested in the outcome.  That outcome being all the love ever forever.  With sprinkles on top.  

So here's the rub.  I'm working on a story right now that doesn't follow the pattern.

 It's a prequel (my betas have promised to not let me George Lucas the shit out of it).  

Ryan's origin story.

See, I got into this thing with her and Sway, and realized she was a very complicated woman.  So much so, that I couldn't get into all of it in Sway's book because it's Sway's book.  I floated the idea of writing her story and some of my pre-readers and close friends have encouraged it.  "Have at it, Plucky Duckling!  Hoist the mainsail!"

(They didn't use those words, that was in my head.  Judge away, there's so much more in there you don't know about.)

Ryan's story will be about who she is and how she became the Ryan we all meet in BRAND NEW SKY.  It's not a romance.  

But it is a love story.

Going through my notes, writing these first few chapters, I find myself falling in love with her. 

And guess who's playing the soundtrack? 

This novella's anthem is Foo Fighter's "Long Road to Ruin" because it's Ryan's song.  It's where she's at right now and it's not a great place.

But it will be. 


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The One About Romance

It should come as no surprise that music is kind of a big deal for me.  Maybe it's because I have no musical talent whatsoever and so I'm drawn to its mystery.  Maybe it's because some of my earliest and most treasured memories are of my beautiful mother playing the guitar and singing me love songs.  I think those things probably tangled together to form a desire in my heart to explore it further.  Not the music so much, but the emotion behind the song.  The people, the story, the soul of the song.

I wanted to be a part of it.  

My small contribution to the writing world is my best attempt.  Yes, I write romance.  No, I'm not ashamed.

I want to take people on an adventure.  And if the slow, dangerous exploration of a person's heart isn't an adventure, then I don't know what is.

For what is more mysterious than the intricate layers and motivations of a man?  

What has led to more misunderstandings and more victories than the quiet diligence of his soul?  

What does he see?  What's the color of the sunset from out of his eyes?  What kind of memories are replayed with the sound of an old song on the radio?  Who is he?  Where is he going?  

Every story is another cliff dive for me.  

I stand on the ledge, feel the wind whip harshly at my body, stealing my breath. 

I'm going to jump.  Every time.

I have to tell the story.  Their story.

It's my song.

On to the next one.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Right Behind Me, Everywhere I Go

Good evening, gentle readers.
 It's been a while, yeah?

Growing pains is the only reason I can give as to my absence.  I mean, I could go into the details of what this summer had been like for me on a deeply personal level—digging into the dark emotional abyss that is my heart and laying it out on the floor for all to see.  But I won't.  Because it's just not me.  

I will tell you that this summer has been one of discovery.  

In the midst of all the happenings in my life, I finished a novel and thus the Double Blind Study series.  It's currently with the editor and dare I say, I'm proud of this one.  More so than the others.  Not because the writing is the best (it's not), and not because it's going to change anyone's life (it won't), but because of all the things I learned during it. 

I might be back in a couple days to unpack some of those things.  Right now I'm just sort of savoring this feeling.  It's quiet and simple and I'm enjoying it. 

No matter how hard life can get, there's always these amazing people who shine their light right into my life and save me.  I guess that's what I'm reflecting on tonight— the bright lights.

And I am grateful.




Saturday, June 13, 2015

The day I woke up in Birmingham OR Sweet Home Alabama

Maybe y'all noticed that I've taken a break from blogging for a couple of months.  I needed the break.  Too much was on my plate and I started dropping the things that seemed less important until I could get caught up.  

I recently attended my first book signing in Birmingham, Alabama.  I had been planning this trip for many months and it kept changing and morphing into a whole new beast.  It made me nervous.  Until it got to a point during the planning where I had to make some hard calls.  I had to call it quits on a few things.  I canceled a total of three photo shoots that I had been looking forward to.  I ended up taking Cap and Bear with me.  I didn't go to any of the author meet-ups, I didn't make it to the after-party.  I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it until after.

I loved meeting all of the readers.  Truly.  And I've always thought of myself as not being very good at "peopling."  I really, really liked meeting all the new people.  Pretty much every person I came into contact with, I fell in love with just a little bit.  

We spent the day after the event walking through Birmingham.  And something happened.  Something peaceful.

If you know the history of Birmingham than maybe you can feel the weight of that.  

My recent personal life has been... difficult, to give it a word.  I was feeling tense and anxious and completely lost when I got on our first plane in Omaha.  But there is something about being high above the world that puts things into perspective.  It was as if my heart reset.  It cleared it's cache of negativity and I was able to fill it with new things.

I really like this life I have.  If that makes me arrogant or insane, I don't care.  I'm content with my present.  There's a peacefulness in acknowledging the space that your mind and heart are occupying.  I spent an entire day surrounded by art and history and science.  I had gone from feeling like my brain was a water-logged sponge, to feeling like my soul had finally set anchor.

And that feeling lasted.

Our flight out of Birmingham kept moving due to the weather in Chicago.  When we finally got to Chicago, the weather had made a fine mess there as well.  It was nearly midnight when they told us we finally had a plane but no pilot.  My friend Kellcie asked if we were in a secret remake of Airplane.  Still not sure about that one.  Our terminal was loaded with grumpy, tired travelers.  And I watched my four-year-old dance with his father and make those tired people smile.

So, yeah, I love my little family and the life we get to share together.  And I'm glad I brought them with me even though that wasn't the original plan.  I think having them there with me healed that scorched portion of my heart that had been fading quickly.  And now I feel whole.

My life is still moving.  I'm still running towards the future.  But some things that I had planned on, have changed.  At first, that was a scary and sad thought.  But you can't force something that wasn't meant to be.  I'm continuing this journey.  I want to see how it finishes.  I plan on doing my best, because it's all I have.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Things My Father Taught Me

I am, by nature, a very private person.  I don't broadcast the most intimate details of my life because it seems inappropriate and frankly a bit tacky.  I have secrets.  Things that are mine and I plan on keeping them that way.  I'm always, still, surprised when I see people tell everyone everything about themselves ever. But I'm even more surprised when I see them tell everything about someone else.

Now, I'm not talking about gossip or backstabbing or slander.  Those are separate issues.  

I'm talking about those moments in peoples lives that are not and should not be treated as a spectator sport. Personal things.  Big news, tragedy, heartbreak, loss, ailment, intimacy, triumphs over obstacles, etc.  I'm not saying no one should share these things about their lives, that would be ridiculous.  What I've noticed is the blatant and boisterous announcement of news that belongs to others.

I don't get it.  But I think that has more to do with watching how my parents handled things like that.  And how they still handle things like that.  

There's a reason that my mom or my dad gets called first when tragedy strikes someone.  A trust has been earned.  A stalwart resistance against the curiosity of the world.  They're first instinct is to protect and serve.  Their circle is small, the information tightly controlled.  I can't even tell you how many times or nights they've spent in hospitals, on roadsides, in stranger's homes, traveling across the country. 

They have no desire to attract attention.  I think that if they did accidentally attract attention, they would consider their mission a failure.

Part of what they do is give the power to the person it belongs to.  If it's good news, then they should be the ones telling it.  If it's sad or awful or the worst thing ever, they should be allowed to reveal those things in their own way and in their own time. 

I remember asking my father once, during my rebellious youth, why he didn't want people to know what he had just done for someone.  I'd gone with him to help someone stranded. My father has been, and always will be, a Jedi mechanic.  I have no idea what he did to fix this car specifically.  I just knew that he had a skill set that was needed in that moment and he'd done just that.  

We were driving home and he was very quiet before he said something that stuck with me.  "That's not why I did it."

It seemed like such a simple answer.  But I never forgot it.  And it repeats in my head every time I see or hear someone declare something they've done for someone else.  I think, "Is that why?  So you felt justified in talking about it?  So that you were the focal point of this moment?"

It's a lesson I learned well.  I find myself doing the same thing.  Shying away from letting others know how much I know about an event or a person.  It's become second nature to me.  I don't just protect my own secrets, I protect the secrets of others as well.

I can promise you, I have been witness to events that you will never hear about.  I have seen the best of humanity in the most private and secret of places.  I have watched my mother be the most amazing and admirable woman I will ever know.  I have watched my father display the exact characteristics that make me proud to be one of his children.

I've learned that to declare yourself as part of someone's life changing event, you put the focus on yourself.  Is that appropriate?  Did you earn that position?  Or did the person whose life you just took a moment of credit for, make the mistake of trusting you to just be there for them? Are you doing good with your very loud words?

Maybe I was raised in a weird way.  Maybe my parents taught me to be more private than your average bear.  Maybe it's bizarre to you, looking from the outside in, as to why I would hold my tongue and keep things to myself.

Or maybe, just maybe, they taught me something invaluable.  Something I will never forget... How to keep it secret and keep it safe.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life Inside a Box

I sat down today to write.  Then I decided that I should probably build a playlist.  Then I ended up distracted by the thoughts that the playlist created.  So I mostly ended up staring at an open document terrified that I was going to screw the whole thing up.

I haven't written in more than a week.  I needed the break and I needed to do other things, but I was really looking forward to getting back to it.  It's interesting how life can look at you and just be like, "No." 

But I will be writing later tonight.  It's burning inside and I have to let it out.

I guess I have to get my thoughts in order just a little bit first.  I have to put some things away and take out others. 

I'm starting here.  It feels like the beginning. 

I've spent a good amount of my life being afraid of beginnings.  Beginnings signified that something had ended.  And endings... I don't like endings.

I won't let you stop me again.

I have worth.

Endings are simply regenerations.

Watch me run.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The One About Love

So it's Tuesday, not my normal day for one of these.  More than that, February is almost over and I haven't posted one on here since January.  Not that any of you are keeping track of that.

I was having a conversation with Cap last night (like we do), and we got pretty heavy (also, like we do).  I've been mulling it over in my head all day and thought I'd share the bulk of it.

I write romance (someday I'll write a blog to address all the genre bashing, this isn't it).  At first blush, it might seem odd, that a person like me would write romance. 

"Well, what do you mean, 'person like you'?" You may ask.

If you've met me, you might understand.  I focus heavily on logic and practicality in my conversations.  I tend to be dry and cynical in a realist sort of way.  I have a hard time with feelings (not just mine).  I think it's unwise to make decisions based solely off of emotions.  However, I do recognize that a majority of the human race does exactly that.  I tend to tune out the arguments of those that have zero facts and are based on feelings.  I become almost clinical in my relationships.

So, the fact that I write romance novels, may seem... weird.  Stories about love, friendship, life... and all those pesky emotions that manage to get tangled along with them.

Writing a romance isn't just about the tingles and feels that come along with two people falling in love for the first time.  At least, not for me. I can't speak for other authors.  

I wonder if they call them romance novels because it's the shortest way to say "The Complex and Intricate Secret Heart-Battles That People Wage Every Single Day of Their Lives."

That's what I'm trying to capture when I write.  The difficult, complicated, and all too often misunderstood people who deserve to have their story told just as much as the next person.  Because don't we all have a love story to share, or one that we dream about, or one that we're fighting for right now?

Writing  for me is a way to capture and display the struggle that every heart faces, in their own way.  The fight, the fear, the joy, the devastation, the hope...  It's romantic, right?

I don't think I need to go into how relationships are difficult.  I think there are plenty of self-help books, internet gurus, and overpaid therapists that have drilled that into society enough.

We all decide to deal with those difficulties in one way or another.  

Cap asked me last night why I decided, more than once, to let something go.  A big something.  Different big somethings.  Some with him, some with others.  What was my logical reasoning for moving past those things?

And I told him the truth.  Like I always do.

I won't stop loving.

Holding a grudge, being bitter, keeping score... none of those things make me think I'm making practical life choices.  Life is guaranteed to suck, I promise that the one you trust the most will let you down.  You're going to have more awful days in a row than good ones sometimes.  

Therefore, loving is the logical solution.   Love is the only thing that makes sense.  Love is what's the most important to me.

Maybe I won't win.  Maybe I'll lose at everything ever. 

But if the worst thing someone can accuse me of in all of my life choices, is that she couldn't win because she just wouldn't stop loving those who meant the most to her... I think I'm okay with that.   




Saturday, January 31, 2015

A poem for my Captain

Getting ready to publish my poems for the first time (and probably only time).  I wanted to share one with you.  I think you can guess by the title who it's about.  February 14 and you'll be able to own the whole collection.


I love it when your hair is crazy,
and you tell me I'm an angel.
When the air is clean in my lungs,
and your voice is soft in my ear.

don't be so dramatic,” you say.

then hold me,
until the drama subsides,

and I will be stronger come morning.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Procrastination and Kitten Juggling

What is going on?  Why am I writing a blog in the middle of the week when I should be writing my intro to the Poetry Anthology?  I think I just answered my question.

I procrastinate like a mofo.  I think the only one who can even come close to topping me is Laura.  I like to stay busy and just a little bit stressed out.  I tried to explain this to Cap.  He thought I had too much on my plate and thought maybe I'd be a little less stressed if I got rid of a couple of things.  He said this because he has my best interests at heart.  What he didn't realize is, the very idea of not being stressed out a little bit, stressed me out.  I think that if I didn't have several creative projects surrounding me at once I would truly go mad.  It's like it's the only way my brain knows how to function, juggle all the kittens, balance all the bananas, twirl all the traffic cones. 

Here's the difference though in my type of stress and "your" type of stress.  I choose what I want to do.  The thrill of trying new things, staying busy with new stories, building my body to where I want it, those are good stresses.  They make me grow as a person, challenge my mind, push me to succeed.

Bad stresses are manipulative people, sickness, financial struggles, relationships that drain you rather than fill you, loss of personal control.  Those things suck.  And they will continue to suck until you're dry if you let them.

So back to my good stress.  My fifth novel releases on Thursday.  

I have a website now.

I get to see Miles again soon.  The same weekend that Naked Came the Trio releases.

Which is what I'm supposed to be working on right now.  My intro to the anthology.  But I'm avoiding it because, while it was my entire idea to do this thing, I'm having significant doubts about adding own work to be among the gorgeous words of my two compatriots.  

I find my work here... lacking.  It's young and unpolished.  But honest, I suppose.  Which is all I can really expect of myself-- to be honest.  Going through my notebooks and trying to decide which should be included and which should be ignored.  I keep thinking of a line from a Jewel song, "My youth, scattered along the highway."  

I'm very proud of how far I've come, though I think I could have done a few things differently or a few things better.  

That probably just comes with the business of juggling kittens.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A teaser of things to come

If you read the blog I posted earlier for Ms J, you can relax.  I feel better now.  I worked out all my issues by using my words and my head is back to where it needs to be.  Mostly.

I'm tired and I have a lot on my mind.  

I'm going to keep this short because, while I want to write, I don't want to write it all here.  I have a couple characters that I need to delve into and see what's got them in knots.  I may have mentioned that I have many projects going on at once.  It's more true now than ever before.

And I switched from listening to Incubus tonight to this:

So I'll give you a glimpse, a tease of what's in my mind.  The smallest little bit of a story that has every intention of ripping out my heart and showing me what it was made to do this whole time.

Sometimes the words are harder to find than at other times.  Occasionally my feelings get in the way of the declaration.  It comes out all garbled and messy and entirely too transparent.  The anger is easier to deal with, it's focused and burns like a fire.  I know where it's going and I sure as hell know where it's been. 

Even in my show-and-tell, I hardly show.  And I never tell.  Self-preservation and all that.

I'm sorry.  I wanted to stay, and I suppose most of me will.  I just can't stay and watch you try to get Venus to revolve around Jupiter.  That might not make sense to you now, hopefully it will someday.

I'm sorry I can only tell you how I feel in code.  I'm sorry I couldn't keep my own promises.  I'm sorry I can only leave my heart with you.  I know it doesn't seem like much, since it's so quiet in your grip.  But it's the only thing of worth I had on me anyway.  Keep it, it always brought me a fair amount of luck.

It's winter in Wyoming.  It's time for me to head south.



Friday, January 16, 2015

Toxic Is My Favorite Britney Song. Coincidence?

We've reached the part of the evening where the dancing has begun.  If you don't believe me, check this out, that's totally me.
 I'm dancing because I hit all my deadlines and THE HOPE THAT STARTS will launch as planned.  This makes me incredible happy.  I am also dancing because dancing is the best.  Especially when done alone and for no reason.  This might not make sense to you.  Most people dance in groups, with other people.  Not me.  When I dance with other people, the derp face comes out.

 Now, derp in motion is way better than still derp.  Ask +Laura Gibson, she knows.  But it's not good on me, ever.  Because when the derp face comes out, you can be sure the manic elbows are going to be making an appearance.  They stick out, they fly up above my head, they jam themselves in peoples eye sockets.  And the legs get super stiff.  I'm like a zombie with rickets.  I teeter and collide with people, causing mayhem. 

But the best part of me dancing in public is my smile. 
I'm making this face because I am completely aware that my body is ruining everyone's good time and I can't stop it.  It's out of my hands.  

This is why at social events, you'll usually find me in the bathroom.

But when I'm alone... When I'm alone, I let it all go.  my body is fluid and graceful.  Finding the rhythm comes as naturally as breathing.  I have no fears, no reservations.  I feel the music and let it take me where it will.
Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating.  I actually have no idea what I look like when I dance alone, because... alone. Duh.   I imagine it's probably closer to this

Doesn't really matter.  I know how it feels and It. Is. Awesome.
I don't even care that my house smells like charred plastic and irresponsibility.  I hit my deadlines.  I kicked that formatting ass.  I drank the Cabernet.  

I'm gonna dance.

Friday, January 9, 2015

I Wish This Blog Had More Taylor Swift In It.

So I'm working on a new project, and you know me, there has to be music involved.  Music is part of my process.  Not just in writing, but in all my major life events.  The music of the moment has always impacted me greatly.  Still, there are songs that can start out of the blue and I will get lost in the memory.

I asked someone to pick their "theme song" so to speak.  It helps me get a feel for how they view themselves.  I guess it's not that simple of a question, especially if you're not like me and surround yourself with music night and day.  Then I remembered in psychology class when we were asked the same question and I immediately wrote my answer on the paper.  I knew what it was before the question was finished.  Then I sat there, bored, for the rest of the class as everyone else hemmed and hawed and thought about it until they picked something out of frustration.

Is that song still my "theme" song?  No.  But it was then, for all the reasons that it needed to be.  I was 17 and scared and unsure of who or what I was going to be or become. But that song made me feel like I was going to figure it out.  Curious? You can find it here-->Closer to Myself

But I also have a list of songs that are "reserved."  Most of them just make me smile now, some make me sad.  But they're still there and they're still important.  They're songs I won't be able to use while I write because in my head (and heart) they're reserved for a specific person/place/moment.  I guess I plan on using them for my semi-autobiography. But not every song made it to "theme song" status.  This one did-->Gray Matter

**Side Note**
I'm going to be publishing some old poetry next month (surprise!) with the Trio.  So if you want to know more about the years where that song was my theme, read that. 

My theme these days is a little less dramatic and a little more sweet.  Because that's where I am now.  In a few years it might be something else entirely.  It's me coming to terms with the things about me that I should be okay with but there's still a struggle to accept.  A song to myself--> Can't You Just Adore Her?

So here's your homework assignment.  And you can choose to comment here or email, message, text, Morse Code, whatever you need to do, but I want to know your answers. What's your song?  Right now.  Not what was it or what do you want it to be in the future.  What is it right now?

It's not a permanent decision.  It's a song that invokes a feeling, an emotion.  Something that says, "This is where I am and this is how it feels."

Share that with me.



Saturday, January 3, 2015

Advice You Don't Want, But Probably Need

Okay, this blog might not make me any friends.  But I think still needs to be said.

Writers, aspiring writers, writers who think they're writers but have yet to write anything, please read good writing.

I think it's important—so important that I took time out of my day to blog about this when I really should be hanging out with Sway—to read well written books.

I find that my writing suffers when I read things that are written... not well.  However, if I keep reading well written things on a regular basis, it reflects in my writing.

Now, before you all start to unite in madness about how reading "corrupts your voice" let me stop you.

I stay away from rock star novels.  I love them, don't get me wrong, and I have a whole list that I'm planning on reading after I finish my series.  Because corruption of voice is a real thing and I don't want to chance it.  I also don't want to be reading a book and see a similar idea and think that I'll never do it that well or someone will think this is where I got the idea. It's too much of a distraction and it'll make my job that much harder.  So I avoid rock star novels like no other.  But not joking about the list.  I'm going to go on a reading binge as soon as this series wraps up.

I still read in my genre though.  I read all the time.  I read way more than I make public because I can't always say nice things about what I'm reading so I keep it to myself.  I have HUGE opinions that belong to me and me alone.  I have no desire to inflict every single one on you, just the important ones (insert creepy winky face).  If I read something and LOVE it, you'll know, I'll totally share the crap out of that.

So let's go back to corruption of voice.  If you're reading things that are poorly written, that will corrupt your voice.  More than that, I believe it actually vaporizes brain cells.  Did you know that you can't regrow brain cells?  Once they're gone, they're gone.  That's it.  No more.  You have what you have and if you waste them on getting blackout drunk or reading piss-poor writing, they're still the same amount of gone.  Which is wholly and completely. 

This is why I download samples.  I have this habit of reading poor writing and trying to fix it in my head.  It's exhausting and drains me of much needed resources.  If I can't get through a sample without trying to fix the issues, I won't read the rest.  For example, first person present tense is incredibly difficult for me to read.  It has to be done very well for me to not look at it like a blog post.  A novel shouldn't read like a blog.  It should read like a novel.  It's supposed to suck me in and transport me to an all new reality where I don't even notice literary rules being broken.  I have a handful of authors who I have no trouble reading who write in first-person-present.  I love them.  They are awesome.

So I try to read amazing stuff.  It stimulates my brain to think in different ways, go in new directions, jump-starts stagnant ideas, pushes my creative boundaries.  Especially the classics.  Right now I'm reading three books at once. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexander Dumas.  I tend to read more when I'm writing, it makes a hell of a difference.  

Do I write like Austen, Scott, or Dumas?  Oh, hell now.  Not even close.  But they make my thoughts reach for the stars.  And the stars is exactly where I want to be when I'm writing. 

Here's a true story:
I read a book once that had a decent storyline but was badly executed, poorly handled, and it read like a rough draft.  I actually had to listen to heavy metal music with headphones to keep me awake while I read it because I kept falling asleep.  THREE TIMES.  I was under the impression that if I started something, I should finish it.  I have since revised this belief to make the exception for bad writing.  See, after I finished that book, I was broken.  For almost a month I couldn't write at all.  I was depressed and sad and lacked any motivation at all.  So I read all of Penny Reid's books in a week and suddenly I was cured.

Because she writes funny, smart, witty stories that I absolutely adore. (READ HER THINGS NOW.)

This is my plea to writers: be the best you can be.  
No, not everyone is going to go down in history as a literary genius like F. Scott, or lovely Ms. Austen.  But you can be the best YOU.  You're limiting yourself when you fill your head with CRAP.  Stop doing it.  I can tell.  You're not fooling me.  If you're satisfied with reading books that are bland, predicable, and quite frankly stupid, then your work is going to reflect that.  Very obviously.  Why push yourself when you're reading others that clearly don't care about doing their best? 

Or, and I can't even believe this is even something I have to address because it's ludicrous to me, if you're not reading at all.  

Now, I get not having time to read when you're in the editing process and it requires intense focus, but that's temporary.  Realistically, you should have a book on your metaphorical nightstand that you plan on returning to as soon as you can.  Writers who claim they don't read piss me right the hell off.  It's like, really?  You expect the world to read your stuff but, you, great awesome wordsmith, are too good to pick up a book?  Is it beneath you? Get over yourself. The best writers read.  Period.  End of discussion.

That would be like a mechanic too busy to drive.  Or a pastry chef who doesn't eat food.  Impossible I tell you!

OH! And mix up your genres.  Don't be a book snob (ew, I judge you for your judgements).  Read the classics, read new things.  Read something ridiculous and fun.  Just read!  ( I feel like this can apply to a lot of things, like music and movies as well.  Genre hating is stupid and you're missing out on life.  Really).  I love me a good thriller, or romance, young adult is wonderful.  It's not the genre that matters, it's the quality of the storytelling.  That's where you should be focused.  If it makes you think, if it compels you to better your craft, then read it.  

Read the crap out of it.