Nerd Moment

I interrupt what would normally have been an insightful, nay, inspirational post to say this:

“Squeeeeee!!! It’s here, it’s here!!”

I am OF COURSE talking about John Green’s latest book, The Fault In Our Stars, newly released this past Tuesday. (I first mentioned how I looked forward to the book HERE, when I went to a John Green signing back in June, and he read an excerpt from it.)

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Aside from my own ridiculous need to finish this draft of WIP2 THIS MONTH, I now have another incentive to get me to write my pages! ^_^

Blog Titles and Other Thoughts

Dandelion clock

Random picture. We can pretend it means that time is ephemeral and fleeting, like dandelion fluff held aloft in the breeze. But really, I just thought it looked cool.

Do you ever wonder what meaning or story a blog title may have? Most titles I guess are straightforward, like “So and So Writes!” or “Books Books Books!” or “How To ___.” But, there are those other ones (you know what I mean, I’m sure) that are either titled or domain-named (can that be a verb?) kinda randomly. Or, am I the only one that wonders about these things? Like I’m reaching to find a story where none really exists.

At any rate, I started thinking about bloggery things, and inevitably, blog titles/names since I chatted with a group of lovely writer friends last night about blogs.*

Previously, my blog title was simply, “Reading Makes Me Happy.” (In fact, some wordpress correspondence still shows up that way, which kinda throws me.) Obviously, I love books, I love reading, so BAM! Easy title! (My focus quote was: “I read to find a ladder to heaven.” W. Strieber.)

Well, sometime last year I had an epiphany, and I won’t go into details about it here (feel free to click on that link, though :)), but I realized that my unacknowledged dreams of writing a book and being a published author was in fact attainable, and it was only seemingly unattainable because I made it so. I did nothing to get me toward writing a novel, so why was I surprised that “gasp! I didn’t have a written novel, and I never will, and this will never happen for me.” *wonk, wonk*

All I needed to do was break down my dream (published author) into a more manageable goal (write novels), and break down the action steps to get me to that goal (develop and hone my writing skills, find a feedback/support group, read a lot, etc). With a paythebills job (sometimes, two!), balancing my goals was sometimes tricky, but I never let the “I have no TIME!” be an excuse for me to fall back on. (I have the same 24-hours that Edison, Einstein, and all those guys had! Surely I can “find the time” to write a book!)

“Find solutions, not excuses” is a mantra I embrace, and I’m also someone who responds well to accountability exercises and goal setting. (It’s the Achiever in me.) I wanted to make the most of the time that I have been given, and not just impulsively do things in the moment. I wanted to really create value in the now that I have. Thus the title, “Redeeming the Time.” (Also, it sounds pretty.) 🙂

“Redeeming the time” reminds me to focus on the things that I do control, like working on the craft of novel writing, so that I can eventually see my dream realized. It also reminds me to simplify and let go of those things that distract me from my goals. Sometimes it’s tough, but I don’t count it as a sacrifice. At this point, I find I feel freer because I’m not owned by other time-wasters. I have more ownership and control of my time, and guard that time zealously.

With all that said, I really want to incorporate reading back into my writing schedule, and even though I’ve said that I don’t really do book reviews, I at least want to put a few in rotation. (I plan on posting a book review page soon). Now, the reviews won’t be as fancy or engaging as most out there, but like this blog, it’s mainly just to keep me accountable to reading all the beautiful stories that find themselves in my mailbox or inbox. If my love for a book inspires someone to go out and read it, well, I’ll look at it as a bonus!

Plus, it’s a shame to get ARCs or egalleys and not give at least a little pre-release blurb about the book. Heck, even sharing a “new to me” title would be delightful. Great stories are meant to be shared and loved. The writers who wrote those stories should know that their sweat, tears, and sleepless nights have created worlds for readers to live in.

For a little while, both the reader and writer share the same dreamspace, and that is an experience worth cultivating.

So Tell Me: Any story behind your blog title? Do you like or care when someone blogs (non-spoiler-y) book reviews?

*The other friends I chatted with were:

This Past Week…

A lot of random things popped up all in the same week that I thought were quite memorable, so I thought to share some of these snippets. I know that normal weeks begin with Sunday and end with Saturday, but I have the privilege of not working a set schedule, thanks to my paythebills job, and Tuesdays generally mark the beginning of my “weekend.” So, without further ado…

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Thanks for lending me the book, Kayla! Also, I think the cover has changed since this ARC, so don't be confused!

I spent last Tuesday (and into Wednesday) immersed in other worlds, namely, Fran Billingsley’s Chime and (the ARC of) Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Both of these stories were incredibly written and beautifully characterized. I wanted to wrap the words around me, and live in these worlds. Seriously, these books are what I aspire to as a writer. Unfortunately, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not available until this fall, but Chime is available now!

I unfortunately missed out on a chat that writerly friends of mine were hosting Wednesday night, but here is the archive of that chat. I think we decided to make it a monthly chat, on the second Thursday of each month.

The next few days after that, fueled by insomnia, caffeine, and the raging desire to work on something fun, I fleshed out a chapter of a story (the snippets of which I wrote back in January) and continued to sketch out “next chapter plots.” I was so proud of myself, this song played in my head all day Friday (thanks to my awesome twitter friend, Michele Shaw, aka @veertothewrite, for tweeting me this link, so I can share the madness with you all):

(You’re welcome.)

Then, thanks to my lovely friend, Carol, I got these books…

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Carol, next in line!

…signed by John Green! (Please visit her blog post, here, where she also shares The Man in Truck incident, and her experiences at WisCon.)

Though I loved getting all three of those books signed, I really appreciated listening to what he had to say about the relationship of the reader and writer, and what he felt was his responsibility as a writer to produce stories that were both helpful and beautiful. Also, we got to hear bits from his new book, the title of which will be released next week. (UPDATE: John Green has announced that the new book’s title is The Fault in Our Stars. He will be signing all pre-ordered copies! Go order one today!)  The book itself comes out in nine months, and from what I heard, I will DEFINITELY be lining up to buy a copy (which will hopefully be signed, too, one day!)(UPDATE#2: Since JG announced he would be signing pre-ordered copies, mine is already signed, but I don’t mind getting it signed again!) 😀

Throughout the week, too, I accrued a pile of titles to be read, even though I promised myself that I would only get one book at a time. What can I say? I’m a book junkie.

So, (thanks to my library), I’m currently reading Julie Halpern’s Don’t Stop Now and Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys (via audiobook. What an efficient reader I am! ^_^). Also in my special library bag (what, you don’t have one?), I have:

  • The Lake, by Banana Yoshimoto
  • The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood (audiobook)
  • Claire de Lune, by Christine Johnston
  • Rot and Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry

Actually, the last two were because of the galleys waiting for me in my inbox. Thanks to Galley Grab, I have their sequels (Nocturne and Dust and Decay, respectively), along with Wildefire, by Karsten Knight, The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann, and Fury, by Elizabeth Miles. (I don’t usually do book reviews on this blog, but I will pass along titles of books I thought were AMAZING! *coughcoughdaughterofsmokeandbonecoughcough*)

So that was my week (which, if you minus the John Green thing, and add a little more insecurity tugging at my “I Can Do This” exterior, was pretty much a typical week).

What Have You Been Up To??

Seasons of Inspiration

Tornado Warning

Image by RaGardner4 via Flickr

Here in Indiana, weather is…unpredictable.  The calendar may say that we are firmly in the spring season, but nature has its own ideas.

Last week, I…

…hid in the basement during a tornado warning.

…took pictures of hail pelting my car.

…pulled on my fuzzy boots because it snowed. Again.

…woke up in the middle of the night as a thunderstorm rolled in and I thought a tree crashed through my roof. (That’s happened before.  Twice.  So, you can understand my paranoia.)

…basked in beautiful sunshine as I ate my lunch outside, to the delight of my sun-starved skin.

It’s both awe-inspiring and humbling to see the influence that nature has on us and how we in turn, respond to it.

I have been working on a couple of Works In Progress now, which isn’t as confusing as it seems since they’re so different and are at different stages.  My first WIP is in a revision stage, and honestly, I plan to focus on it more this month than my second WIP, which is only in the rough draft stage.  So even though first WIP gets more of my structured writing time, I still let my muses play with second WIP during random times like driving to work or while my store is empty.  That’s the beauty of a rough draft: unbridled creativity and imagination.

My first WIP, I started writing in the fall during NaNoWriMo.  It’s dark and disjointed and looking back, probably reflected the madcap emotional turbulence of both NaNoWriMo and working through two retail jobs during the holiday season.   My second WIP was born on a bitter morning, the bleak winter landscape a perfect setting for a character filled with the helplessness, anger, and resentment that biting, sub-zero temperatures can create.

This week,though, something odd happened as I drove to work.  Well, two things really.  First, because of extremely gusty winds (I’m talking blow-you-into-the-next-lane-without-warning gusts), I ended up driving 5-10 miles under the speed limit.  (No comment on my normal driving speed.)  Second, I realized that I was dreaming up words for another WIP.

Now, this bout of inspiration didn’t just happen.  The WIP my muses brought to mind is one that I’ve had in the back burner for basically my whole life, but I have never dared to capture it in words.  My current WIPs were born out of fun ideas that I followed to their inevitable conclusions.  They are exercises in my mental stamina and discipline to finish a task. This other WIP, though…it’s different.

This WIP (which for clarity we’ll call third WIP) matters the most to me because it encompasses all of my unspoken fears, hopes, loves, dreams.  It’s basically a straight window into my soul.  As such, even thinking about it both inspires me and intimidates me.  I’m too emotionally invested in it, which is why I never felt like I can write it the way it needs to be written.  The way it deserves to be written.  So, I’ve gotten used to just ignoring it.

But then, the wind whipped just right and I imagined a curling wave.  The humidity and warmth reached a specific threshold and I delighted in memories of tropical sun showers.  My cautious wariness of other cars brought to mind the winding road to Hana (on Maui).

Now, I can’t help but wonder: should I follow my muses into this third WIP?

SO TELL ME: I know writers find inspiration everywhere, but do YOU have seasonal “moods” when it comes to your WIP? Do YOU find yourself reading a book or genre during specific times of year because it “felt” more like summer or winter?