Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When One Door Closes

Sometimes you have to break open a window.

I tested the waters with vlogging shortly after moving to California, and absolutely loved it. It was so fun building a fort out of books to record from, and acting like a crazy person in front of a camera, and sharing it on YouTube and actually getting some nice comments! I knew that I wanted to continue with this vlogging thing no matter what else life threw at me. It's something I have the potential to be good at, and it's a great way to make friends (which, as we all know, I'm in desperate need of)!

And that is why I am SO SO excited to share this news with you.

So often since moving here, it's felt like door after door has closed on me. I have now applied to dozens of jobs, with only two rejection emails and zero phone calls to show for it. I haven't met anyone who is anywhere close to my age, and I didn't make the cut for something that I had auditioned for. So I should give up, right? Right? Trying for a few weeks is good enough.

Yeah, right.

I was approached by the lovely Kellie Sheridan, who liked my video (and who also has her own awesome vlogs!), about joining a hot-off-the-webcam group of readers and writers who are starting a YouTube channel about YA lit. These girls are amazing! We have been working hard over the last few weeks to get everything put together, and I can't wait for y'all to see what we've got going. There will be a new YouTube video every day on our channel, based on a theme for each of those days. The themes will be as follows:

  • Monday- Ink Slinging (Writing life/advice)
  • Tuesday- Reader's Nook (Book recommendations)
  • Wednesday- Word Play (Fave/newly learned words or inspirational quotes)
  • Thursday- The Circulation Desk (The publishing industry)
  • Friday- Inspiration Corner (Things that inspire our writing)
  • Saturday- Vlogger's Choice (Where we get to do whatever we want... MUAHAHAHA)
  • Sunday- The Sunday Special (random things like: a book club once a month, discussions or interviews with other writers... Basically anything that’s not a traditional vlog!)
There are six of us, and we will rotate days each week and collaborate on Sundays. We're starting THIS Monday, September 30th! You'll get to see us be silly, talk about our passions, and every now and then things will get REAL. So definitely check out our debut video, and like and share if you want to see more!

You can also follow us on Twitter! @YAWordNerds

Monday, September 23, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Today I decided I wanted to play around with my blog design a little bit... I've had this one for awhile, so maybe it's time for a change, right? Right?


After spending close to an hour and a half playing with other templates, and then another half hour trying desperately to find a way to remove one particularly sneaky and determined background, I have realized that there really is no place like home (or the template that you're used to...).

Also, I am terrible at computer-y things.

In other news, I am loving Neil Patrick Harris's performance at the Emmys last night. He is and will always be fabulous.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Take the Leap: Critique Partners

Writing a book is hard... But you probably knew that already, right?

Writing a book is also a deeply personal thing. Delilah Dawson says (in the oh-so-hilarious 25 Steps to Becoming a Traditionally Published Author) that sending your book out to potential publishers is like saying to them, "HERE IS THE BEST WAY TO BREAK MY HEART FOREVER." She is totally right. And it feels kind of the same way no matter who you give your work to.

Sure, there's the excitement that comes from having one of your friends/classmates read something you wrote, but there's also that gnawing in the pit of your stomach. What will they say? Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they tell me I should give up writing completely? I probably should. My work sucks.

You should know that the inner monologue will never go away completely, but that inner voice is wrong. There will probably be things you need to fix- sometimes really big things- but your work matters, and anyone who is the kind of critique partner you want, will never let you forget that. If you send your work out to someone and they don't have anything nice to say, or if they ever say anything that puts you down as a person or as a writer, then they don't belong in your super exclusive circle of beta readers.

Find people you trust, who make that leap of sending out your work a little easier.

I've got to take a moment to give a shout out to my writing group: Holly, Kyra, Cassie and Emma. I met them in a children's book publishing seminar in college, and they are AMAZING. They make me feel good as a writer, and they also tell me when there are big things I need to fix, or when I just need to move the plot a little faster, or when my characters do something that just doesn't make sense.

Criticism is hard, but it is also awesome. Without my writing group, my story would have no chance of success. No chance. Because alone, I can write a decent novel, something worth sending to my grandma. But with others, I can create something worth selling in a bookstore. Critique partners see the things that you are just too close to the story to see. They are there to bounce ideas off of when you are stuck, and make you feel awesome when you're going through that phase everyone goes through where you think MY BOOK SUCKS NO ONE WILL EVER WANT TO READ THIS ISHOULDJUSTKILLITWITHFIRE.

It doesn't, someone will, and you definitely shouldn't. Take the leap. Send your work to someone. It will be worth it; I promise.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

10 Steps of Writing (According to Nick Miller)

So New Girl has just started back up, AND they put season two on Netflix recently, so we all know what I've been doing. And since I've been working so much more seriously on my current work in progress (and preparing it to hopefully snag an agent), watching Nick Miller write his book (Z is for Zombie) is all the more hilarious. And so, without further ado, here are the ten steps of getting on with your manuscript, according to Nick Miller:

1. Brilliance strikes. It is THE BEST IDEA EVER.

2. The world is going to love this book! You can already imagine your name on the NYT Bestselling list for weeks on end.

3. BUT THEN, you actually sit down to write that perfect scene. It is so beautiful in your head; you just know that it will be equally as magnificent on the page. Until...

4. From there, it goes a little something like this:

5. Until you just can't take it anymore and all of your frustrations just come out in an entirely inappropriate way.

6. When your non-writer friends find you in such a state, they try to fix your problems. But they just don't understand! And even though you've spent hours procrastinating by reading other writers' blogs that are chock full of advice, you're still like:

7. Maybe reevaluating your writing career will help? It's time for a little soul searching.

8. And after you imagine every other career possibility, you realize that there is no other choice. There can only be one career for you, and you are willing to do whatever it takes. YOU WILL BE THE NEXT ERNEST HEMINGWAY.

9. And then you just push on, and don't even care that what you're writing doesn't make sense, because you are writing. A REAL book. Besides, you can get rid of all that sucky stuff during revisions, right?

10. And it doesn't matter what the final outcome is, because you are so proud that you actually WROTE SOMETHING. And even though you didn't leave the house or put clothes on today, that indecipherable manuscript is no small feat.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Things are HARD.

So I just moved to California.

I grew up in the South, and went to college in a relatively small town, at a Christian school. I had amazing friends, both back home and in college, but I have no one here.

That should be a writer's dream, right? Right? I can ALWAYS write! That's what I tell myself.

Except for I'm not an introvert. For me, I am more creative when I can get out of the house and see real live humans and maybe even communicate with those humans. But here in California, where I am farther West than anyone in my family has ever lived, where I know absolutely no one and have no real way of meeting anyone, it is a lot harder to keep the uplifting blog posts and tweets and outlooks coming.

I know what my MC would do... But that's not really relevant because I made her up. No matter how real she might feel, or how much she might argue with me sometimes.

I don't know the solution yet. I just keep applying to jobs and taking advantage of social media, in hopes that that will give me what I need for now. We'll see. I'll keep you posted. But for now, it's hard- maybe picture Bridget Jones singing "All By Myself" and imagine that is me? Because that's surprisingly accurate.

On a more trying-to-keep-it-positive note: I am making homemade Cafe Rio salads tomorrow... YES.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What Lizzie Bennett Diaries Has Taught Me About Writing in the First Person

One of the classic traits of YA literature is that it is written in the first person (NOTE: not all the time... But it's incredibly common). I know several people who don't read anything that isn't written in the first person because they think they won't be able to relate to it (my teenage sister-in-law included).

I've heard in some writing classes that writing in the first person is easier, that it's the lazy man's way of writing a book. To those people I say: Watch the Lizzie Bennett Diaries. I am a huge fan of this vlog (if you haven't heard of it, it's a modern-day Pride and Prejudice told from Lizzie Bennett's perspective). It seemed like everyone who watched it was crazy about it, and for good reason.

The entire story is told in front of a webcam. That means that if Mr. Darcy does something critically important, it has to happen in such a way that Lizzie talks about it or sees it happen from in front of her computer.

This is just like writing!

If something important is going to happen in the first person, then it has to be seen through the eyes of the protagonist. You can't just take a second to write a paragraph or two about the important history, or the motives of the villain. Everything will be seen through the bias of the MC- and trust me, everyone has some sort of bias. It's harder to do well than it sounds!

So if you find yourself with a huge gap of time, I highly recommend checking out The Lizzie Bennett Diaries! There's a ton that can be learned from them. But be warned: only start watching them if you have a ton of time on your hands, because you won't be able to stop!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where's the Love? Oh I know...

It's with the book lovers!

This week has been awesome. I went a little out of my comfort zone and auditioned for something that normally I'd be too nervous to try, and it was so fun! It's been a great opportunity to interact with more people in the YA community.

A lot of times when you're a writer (especially an unpublished/unagented one), it's easy to get discouraged because it feels like you're just writing. But what about all those awesome people who are total book BFFs and have that perfect relationship that you want and all the authors tweet each other and it's this circle that it feels like you'll NEVER break into? They have it all! Friends! Book deals! Websites that get visited by more than three people per month! They live in hip apartments that make cluttered look cool! So why does my apartment just smell funny and why haven't I had any human interaction all day?

Before this week, these were the kinds of questions that could send me back into sweatpants for the rest of the day (not that it takes much to do that). Today, though, I had an epiphany. As I was checking the comments I'd received on a YouTube video posted, I realized that I had been acting a little like Rapunzel in Tangled. She sits up in that tower all day and even though she has everything that she needs to get out, she doesn't. But once she does take one small step, she finds what she's looking for.

That's EXACTLY what goes on in the YA community. Everyone is so so friendly and willing to talk with you, but there are so many people out there who also want to write and be a part of that world (cue Little Mermaid song here?) that if you don't go out of your comfort zone, you won't find what you're looking for.

I went out of my comfort zone. You better believe that anytime I think about it, adrenaline spikes through my arms and legs and I feel the slight urge to run and delete my YouTube account and drown my lonely sorrows in ice cream and puppies.

But I don't.

Because even though I haven't become instant best friends with anyone and I am not in any seemingly exclusive author-y circles, I have met people. Nice, amazing people who are maybe also going out of their comfort zone to make friends. And sometimes it's scary, but it is cool to know that the bouncer of the super exclusive YA club is actually me. Or you.

And that's why the writing community is the best.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Let's Talk TinTin

I never had any desire to watch the new(ish) Adventures of TinTin movie. I'd seen a little of the cartoons, but none of it seemed like it would really appeal to me. However, this weekend for date night Mr. J convinced me to watch it with him, because he'd read a lot about it and wanted to give it a try.

Let me start off by saying WOW. I mean, I should have known it would be good, given that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson worked on it together, but still. I wasn't expecting that level of action from a (surprisingly realistic-looking) animated film.

And TINTIN. I loved him. Even though things had a weird way of working out for him in ways that wouldn't be realistic in a live-action film, he was just awesome. It was great to see a male character who was as smart as he professed to be. It went beyond merely quoting Shakespeare like so many smart male protagonists do these days. I very nearly swooned when he ran to the library to find some answers, and how he used all kinds of deductive and inductive reasoning to figure out the mystery of the Haddocks.

I'm hoping to portray some of my male protagonists in this way in the future, because the smart guy who doesn't always get the girl is more realistic (though the lack of women in the movie, period, was not realistic... but that's for another time).

So what do you think? Who are awesome, realistic male protagonists you've found in your reading of late?