Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thursday's Children - Embracing the Chaos

It's the holiday season and everyone is sunning around like crazy people. Or is that just me? Either way, trying to keep to my regular writing schedule during this time of year is more than a little daunting. We've had four family holiday parties so far and one left to go. It's madness.

But, I'm trying. I know that if I don't - if I just blow off all my writing duties (like bloggging) - I'll have a harder time getting back into my story when things are less chaotic. But sometimes we just have to embrace the insanity and do the best we can and get back to our writing later.

So right now, I'm going for ninty percent embracing the insanity and ten percent normal writing schedule. It's a lot like working out to keep up my stamina so I'll have enough energy to run that marathon when the holiday madness is over.

If you celebrate any of the holidays this season, I hope you're all enjoying time with your family and friends. If you don't celebrate, I'm still hoping you're having a great end of the year and I'm wishing us all a wonderful and productive new year!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday's Children: The Time is Now

Something I hear from a lot of people is "I'd like to write a book, but I just don't have time."
The sad thing is, this is true. If you operate on the belief that you don't have the time to write, you won't. If you don't make the time to write, to carve it out of the chaos of everyday life, it won't happen. You won't write that book that's lurking inside you. 

It's not that writers are less busy than other people. To the contrary, writers are probably the busiest people I've ever met. Not only are they managing their own lives and often the lives of their families, they're also creating and keeping track of the lives, and sometimes deaths, of a whole host of fictional characters.

If writing a book is important to you, you'll find the time to do it. You'll stay up late, get up early, give up things that are less important that your story. Take a look at your life - what can you get rid of. Obviously the kids have to stay. :)  The day job probably does too - at least for now. But there are probably things you can let go of. Like excessive TV watching or internet surfing.

In addition to cutting things, you can also more effectively use the small pockets of time you do have. Instead of being cranky that you don't have time to write, keep a notebook with you, write while your kid is getting his braces adjusted. Make notes while you're getting your oil changed. Work on character studies while your kid is at practice or you're making supper.

Are these ideal situations in which to write? Nope. But they're usable. Would we all rather sit uninterrupted for hours at a time and focus only on our stories? Absolutely. But those aren't the lives most of us have. We have to take the opportunities we have, even if they don't look like much. Those found opportunities will add up the story you've always wanted to write.

When I start feeling overwhelmed by life and my perceived lack of time, I remind myself of this quote by E.B. White: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”

I don't want to be the person who never writes the stories she wants to tell, so I'll keep finding time even it's not perfect. There are too many stories not to.

We'd love to have you join and tell us what inspires you and your writing! Here's the code for your blog if you'd like to join us! 

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This is what Christmas looks like at my house. o.O

This is what our tree looked like until the cats got to it. It was a lovely and peaceful two minutes.

 Willow making herself at home and trying to put an end to an evil acorn.
 Possibly plotting the demise of Kanga and Roo who are hanging just out of view.
 I don't even know what got her attention here.
 Making herself really comfortable.
 See that little blonde faery? Yeah, Willow took her out later that night. Still have to glue her back together.
 Bored now.
 Morrighan has joined her sister in the tree.

Morrighan prefers shipping boxes to the tree, but when there are no boxes, she'll cheerfully climb.

So yeah...this is the naughtiness at my house. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to fix a faery, a mushroom and a pirate ship - all casualties of Willow and Morrighan, the holiday terrors.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday's Children - What does inspiration smell like?

I think that everyone knows that scents are capable of evoking strong emotional memories. Fresh baked bread, lilacs, oranges and cloves, incense, peonies - I have strong scent associations with all of those things. Hell, even the smell of fresh cut hay and cow manure bring out the nostalgia in me since I spent a lot of my childhood summers on working dairy and sustenance farms.

As beginner writers, we're often reminded to utilize all of the senses in order to more effectively bring our stories to life for our readers. In a lot of books that I read, I've noticed that scent is probably the most neglected of the senses. It's an important one, though. Its inclusion adds a subtle depth to scenes, helping to anchor the reader more firmly in the realities of the stories we read and write.

I'm a big proponent of aromatherapy, and I even use it while writing. In addition to using specific music to set the mood, I also use scents - either perfume oils or scented candles. Yes, I know the candle thing sounds like a giant cliché, but the scents really do help put me in the right frame of mind to get down to work. They also help with description to more effectively and evocatively describe the scene - especially since I can't always drop everything and head to the lake shore or the the woods!

 And if you're in the market for some inspiring scents, may I recommend, The Mindful Mushroom?

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thursday's Chidren - FINISHED THE BOOK!

I'm so excited! I finished my book, Eventide, last Friday morning at 8:49.

I don't think I've ever been more pleased with something I've written. I hope that's a good sign.

I often use visual cues while writing, so I thought I'd share some of the things that inspired me while writing it. And the (very rough) blurb is below the pictures.

Also, the act of finishing it has motivated me to start the next one in the series. Images and phrases that I wouldn't allow into my consciousness while I was finishing up this story are now jumping up and down hollering, "Pick me! Pick me!"

It's funny how finishing one book can immediately inspire you to start a new one. I'm just gonna roll with it. Why look a gift idea in the mouth. ;)

Devon Greer has a secret, and it might just kill her.

Responsible for the death of her best friend and an outcast in her community because of it, she’s got even bigger problems. She’s pretty sure she’s losing her mind. Despite the fact that Rachel was buried four months ago, Devon has been seeing her everywhere. And she’s not alone.

In the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Devon encounters the impossible—white stags, otherworldly warriors, changelings and the Faery Court of the Sidhe. And most of them want her dead.

Devon’s got one chance to put things right. One chance to save Rachel. If she can survive long enough to do it.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday's Children - Almost There

I've been trying to decide what aspect of inspiration to focus on today, but all I can think about is getting back to my story. I'm about a chapter and a half from the end and it's spilling out of me like an upended cup. I feel like my cat who takes a special kind of joy in knocking over my cup of tea. She watches the liquid flow over the table...floor...couch...wiggling her butt in excitement while her head whips from side to side as she tries to decide which section of the mess she wants to pounce on first.

I can't ever remember feeling such joy and excitement while writing. And I realized that's what's inspiring me. I want more of this feeling. I want to see how it all plays out. It's not like I'm writing blind or anything. I have a basic road map. I know what the big moments are. I know how it ends. But I find that I don't always have a detailed plan for getting there, and that's the most exciting part. I'm discovering all kinds of hidden treasures as I roll faster and faster toward the end. They're peering out from between the trees. They're half buried in the sand. They're waiting for me to find them and pounce on them.

I'm also finding bits and pieces of the next story, so I'm picking them up and tucking them away for later. But mostly, I'm reveling in the joy of discovery and the excitement of finally finding all the pieces of the story I've always wanted to tell.

I hope that whatever your process is, you're enjoying it. Now, I hope you'll excuse me, because I've got a book to finish!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thursday's Children - Thankfulness

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I'd post about all the things I'm thankful for - at least the things that pertain to my writing. If I listed all the things I'm thankful for, we'd be here for weeks.

So in no particular order, here they are: My family - husband, sons, brothers, sister, mom, nieces, nephews, dad, stepmom - they get me and they're supportive of what I do, proud of me, they want me to succeed and are great at picking up the slack when deadline time rolls around.

My friends - they're also supportive, want me to succeed and will brainstorm plots with me, challenge me and commiserate with me.

My blogger and author friends - they inspire me every day and help keep me motivated.

My favorite authors - they provide me with hours of reading material that never fails to inspire me.

My editing day job - I love what I do, I love my authors, and I love my relatively flexible schedule that allows me to stay home with my kids and pursue the job I love most.

My other writing gig - see above. :)

My kitties - for keeping me company during the day and unconditional love.

My computer - super grateful to have this. I can't imagine writing books by hand.

My waterproof note pad - there's nothing better than being able to write down my creativity surges while in the shower.

The ideas that keep me writing - it's always a wonderful discovery even if I think I know what's going to happen.

The world around me - it's full of beauty, magic and inspiration everywhere I look.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I wish you a wonderful holiday! Don't forget to share what you're thankful for. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thursday's Children - What Pottery Has to Do with Writing

I had an amazing opportunity this week to help out my youngest son's art teacher with her pottery unit.

Should I have been home finishing my novel? Probably.

Am I a little behind schedule as a result of volunteering for four to six hours a day? Absolutely.

Was it worth it? Without a doubt!

After spending my first four hour shift with about 80ish high schoolers, helping them with various hand building techniques, the teacher gave me about 25 pounds of clay - a beautiful, glorious block of gray clay. She told me to make whatever I wanted and she'd make sure it got fired.

I brought it home and immediately sat down and tried to write. I've got this scene that's been giving me a bit of trouble and I've come at it from every angle I could think of. But as I tried to again sort of that scene, the block of clay kept staring at me from the dining room table...taunting me. Trying to lure me over there with the promise of it's cool, perfect smoothness.

I put up a valiant fight - at least two hours - but it finally won. I gave up on figuring out that scene, closed my laptop and got out my clay tools. It had been so long since I was able to play with clay, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make anything worth keeping. I ended up making 14 holiday gifts - ornaments, wine glasses, a bowl, candle holders etc.

But an interesting thing happened while I played.  My hands were busy sculpting and shaping and my mind was free to wander. It definitely wandered.While I was turning the clay over and over in my hands my plot was tumbling in my head. After maybe an hour, I knew what the problem was. It seems so obvious now, but I'm not sure I would have come up with it had I stayed at my computer banging my head against the keyboard. I needed some other creative outlet to help shake loose the solutions to a completely unrelated problem.

I'm going back to art class again tomorrow - we've got four class periods at 90 minutes each. It's gonna be a long day. But it'll be worth it. In addition to the creativity sneak attack, I'm also spending time with a ton of high school freshman, sophomores and juniors. Talk about great research! And honestly, great kids - I'm thoroughly enjoying hanging with them.  And as a bonus, I get to spend lunch hour with the teachers for even more research opportunities.  What more could this writer ask for?

Here are a few things I've started on. They're all pretty rough and all need quite a lot of work yet, but I'm excited to see them all glazed and finished. By the way, I was working on the  glasses when the story solution hit me. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday's Children - Writers' Workshops

This past weekend, my local writing group had a writing conference. It was full of the things all awesome conferences share, chances to pitch your book, Q&A with industry professionals and workshops - 12 brilliant hands on workshops.

Since I was one of the conference coordinators (as well as the person who found the speakers and put together the schedule) I was able to choose the workshops I wanted to moderate (a coordinator's job is never done). We had a whole morning and afternoon of fabulous speakers, and the four that I moderated were nothing short of brilliant.

There was a hilarious and also incredibly informative presentation on Time Management for People with No Time. Jen provided all kinds of useful tips and tricks to get more writing into to your day - even if you have a million and twelve other things to do.

I also enjoyed the workshop on plotting using Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey given by Brynn Paulin. Using popular movies, she broke The Hero's Journey down in a slightly different way than I've seen before that effectively explained the concept and made it easy to work with using our own plots.

Lara Zielin gave a fantastic interactive lecture on The First Five Pages and how to make them unforgettable (in a good way) I wish there had been more time to go through the opening pages that the attending writers brought. But the ones we did get through were helpful no only to the authors, but the rest of us as well.

Margaret Yang's talk on Plotting for Pantzers was exactly what I needed. I'll admit, I'm not a plotter - more like a wanderer following a trail of breadcrumbs. I tend to stop along the way and pick up rocks and pretty leaves - sometimes they're useful for the story I'm telling, sometimes they're not. Because of my wandering, I tend toward side trips in my writing that need to be heavily edited. Thanks to Margaret's workshop, I had several "light bulb moments". I feel like my side trips are going to be far less problematic.

Now I'm not saying that I've suddenly turned into someone who plots my book chapter by chapter, but I think I'm definitely becoming a wanderer with a purpose. And a path. I couldn't be more grateful to Margaret for her workshop.

For those of you who've never been to a writers conference, I highly recommend going. Sometimes the smallest thing can change your perspective and give you a whole new view of your story.

What about you - have you ever been to a writers workshop? If so, what workshop had the biggest impact on you?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunshine Blog Award!

I received the Sunshine Blog Award from the awesome Rhiann Wynn-Nolet, which was a lovely surprise!

I'll be answering 8 questions, then passing the Sunshine Award on to a few more writer-bloggers.

1. What is your Favorite Christmas/Festive movie?
    The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I can recite the entire thing *and* sing the song!

2. What is your Favorite Flower?
It's too hard to pick one...daffodils and violets in the early spring - they remind me of my Gram and give me hope that it really will be spring again. And lilacs - the scent makes me so happy.

3. What is your Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverage?

     Tea. Either hot English (or Irish) Breakfast tea or a huge glass of iced tea. I drink both all year round.

4. What is your Passion?
     My family, writing and crafting.

5. What is your Favorite Time of Year?

     Autumn - I love the weather, the scents, the sights, the storms...the everything. There's not a single thing about Autumn that I don't love.

6. What is your Favorite Time of Day?

    Morning after I drop my kids off at school and the house is empty except for me and the cats.

7. What is your Favorite Physical Activity?

     Walking along one of the Great Lakes or in the woods.

8. What is your Favorite Vacation Spot?

     Lake Superior. It's the place where I'm most at peace. However, I feel certain that I would feel equally at peace in Ireland or Great Britain. I just need to be able to test that theory. ;)

I'm passing the blog award on to...

Tess Grant of Books and Bones

Patricia Kiyono of Creative Hodgepodge

Kel of Coffee and Prozac

Lisa Orchard

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thursday's Children - It's That Time of Year

Tomorrow marks the start of NaNoWriMo.

I'm not sure how I feel about that - other than I kinda want to punch Chris Baty in the face a little bit (with great amounts of love and respect, of course)for choosing the month of November. Seriously, who thought trying to cram 50K into a month that for many of us involves cooking elaborate feasts, parent/teacher conferences, making and buying of holiday gifts and planning holiday gatherings was a good idea?

Obviously someone who didn't have to worry about those things I'm sure it's painfully apparent that NaNo isn't something I usually participate in...because I'm a fan of sanity. A big fan

 My local writing chapter does a version of NaNo, usually in February or March. We toss in five bucks to participate and for every thousand words we fall short of our goal, we owe another buck. Needless to say, it's pretty good motivation, plus it's held at a more opportune time of year.

However, this year I'm going to participate in November. Well, I'm going to participate in an offshoot version of NaNo. Part of the reason is that I have a book that needs to be written, but a more important reason is because my friend's teenage daughter wants to write a book. She's not comfortable in joining the larger internet community so she's asked that her mom and her mom's writer friends join her so we can all cheer and support each other. If participating in our own version of NaNo will help motivate my friend's daughter to keep writing, I'm in. I know that's something I definitely would have benefited from at that age.

According to the rules she's set up, we'll be checking in with weekly totals. Whoever has the highest word count for the week gets Starbucks cards from everyone else. I think she's planning on drinking a lot of coffee...especially since I'll be helping to put on my local writing chapter's conference this weekend. So wish me luck. I'm gonna need it!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday's Children - Does Your Story Have a Sound?

Like a lot of people, I often listen to music while I write. Sometimes it's to drown out the ambient noises of living with teenage boys, a husband, three cats and a phone that rarely stops ringing, and other times it's to help put me in the right frame of mind for the story I'm working on at the moment or a particular scene.

Each book has it's own soundtrack/playlist, but sometimes, I'll just put a specific track on repeat. I can't say that I'm actively listening to the music - at least not past the first ten or fifteen minutes - but having it play in the background helps me keep my focus.

My current WIP involves the Sidhe, the forest, death, sacrifices and the beginnings of a romantic relationship so I needed to pull together a collection of songs that would put me in the right zone while writing. And I should mention that I don't always use music, but depending on the story, ambient sounds work beautifully, too.

For instance, most of my WIP takes place outside near Lake Superior and in portions of the Hiawatha National Forest, so depending on what I'm writing, I'll play a loop of forest sounds, thunderstorms or the audio from the video of the lake shore waves that I took this past summer.

As for songs, this particular manuscript involves a lot of Celtic or Celtic-influenced artists like Kate Rusby, Loreena McKennitt, Circa Paleo, Faun,Susan McKeown and Kate Price.

There are also some great tracks by Joseph Arthur, Counting Crows, Howie Day, Oasis, Ryan Adams, Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, Mumford and Sons, Tracy Chapman, Snow Patrol, Dar Williams and Brandi Carlile, Catie Curtis and Abney Park.

So what about you? Do you listen to music while you write? If so, please share! Here are a few of my favorites that I thought I'd share with you :).

Kate Rusby's take on the traditional "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" Joseph Arthur's "In the Sun"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

And I Humbly Accept...

The Liebster Award!

Given to me by the lovely Rhiann over at  A Nest of Words!

Here were Rhiann's questions for me:

1. If you were to choose a Nom de Plume, what would it be?

Maybe Bridgid...or Morgan...or Gwenden...or how about Morwyn or Tristyn? Definitely something Celtic - lol!

2. What is your favorite flower?

Lilacs - I love the colors, the scent and the feeling that if they've survived winter long enough to bloom, than I can too.

3. If you had to live prior to 1900, what century would you choose, and why?

Is it wrong that I'd want to live in the Edwardian period for the fantastic dresses and jewelry? I know, I know - totally shallow, but there it is.

4. What is your motto?

It's a quote by Maggie Kuhn. "Speak your mind even if your voice shakes."  It's not always the easiest thing to do, but I try.

5. Lake or ocean, and why?

Lake - Lake Superior in particular. It's an amazing body of water that has a different personality for every season. Actually, depending on the weather, a different personality for every day! It's HUGE and the waves never stop. It's my favorite place to visit and the home of our annual writers retreat!

6. Tell us three things about a favorite character you've created.

Right now, I'm really fond of Mellie
1. I love how her bitchtastic personality conflicts with her deep-down desire to do the right thing.
2. She's a changling trying to live her own life in the midst of someone else's.
3. Her strength in choosing to help another even though she'll suffer for it.

7. You're in a car and this song comes on the radio - you can't change the station fast enough.

So. Many. Songs. Which is why I have tons of cds in my car (Sadly, my car is too old to have an iPod jack, but the next one will!) The cds keep me from playing "Radio Roulette" while I'm driving. I hate the song Bad to the Bone" more than I can possibly express, also anything by ZZ Top. I should probably stop the list there or it'll be endless.

8. Which author influences you most as a writer, and in what way?

Charles deLint - that man blends the magical and mundane like no other and transports me to en entirely new world! Love his work! Someday, I'd love to have that same effect on people.

9. When you get writer's block, doing this helps. (If you never get writer's block I'm blowing raspberries at you).

Honestly, I don't really get writer's block. I do, however, suffer from chaotic life snydrome which often achieves the same results. But usually, a little deep breathing while listening to the book's soundtrack will get me back on the right path again. Or switching WIPS - that helps too. .

10. What movie scared you (and maybe scarred you)?

It. Definitely, It. I've never liked clowns, but Tim Curry in that movie turned discomfort into a full-on phobia.

11. What's your favorite Halloween candy?

Um...all of it?  Probably Reece's Peanut Butter Cups or Mounds.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday's Children - Inspiring Art

Okay, confession time. My day job involves overseeing several departments of a small publishing house and editing a group of outstanding authors.

Unfortunately, there are times that authors run really late on deadlines. Really late. This is one of those weeks and because of that, I'm now running really late with my post. I'm not angry at my author or anything, but I am a little brain dead in terms of coming up with a topic for today's Thursday's Children post.

So...I hope you'll forgive, me but I'm going to cop out a little and share some images with you that are inspiring my current WIP.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thursday's Children - Dress Up and Character Creation

I'm piggybacking on the lovely Rhiann Wynn-Nolet's Thoughts on Halloween post. Apparently, we're both huge fans of Halloween and dressing up. I knew I liked her. :) I'm also a huge fan of sewing - well, of most forms of crafting , really. There's something incredibly satisfying about creating something from nothing - or at least, mostly nothing.

I make mugs, bowls and wall art from globs of formless clay. I make clothing from shapeless piles of fabric. I make pictures from colored bits of thread. And perhaps most satisfying, I create people and worlds from nothing more than words and the thoughts rattling around in my head.

The people in my stories are take shape in a similar fashion to how I create costumes. I look at random assorted personality traits, memories and experiences in must the same way that I look at fabric, trim, foundation pieces. Then I fiddle around with them until they become a cohesive, believable whole - person or garment, it doesn't really matter. It's a similar process - particularly since I rarely use patterns when I sew. Part of it is knowing what works and how to put it together and part of it is trial and error. Writing and sewing are really very similar.

In keeping with the Halloween tradition, here are some of the costumes I've made - or at least ones I could find pictures of. :)

                              My husband, our two boys (many years ago) and me at a ren faire.

 A friend in the wedding dress I made her. 

 My youngest son in the Stormtrooper costume I made him (well, obviously not the blaster or the helmet...)
 My youngest son in the Jawa costume I made him. His stuffed kitty had a matching costume, too.

                                A pirate-y homecoming dress I made for a friend's daughter.

                                                           One of my favorite dresses.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday's Children - Tracking Down Inspiration

There's a great quote by Jack London about inspiration.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

To a certain extent, I absolutely agree with this. If you don't actively go after your goals, you won't achieve them. As much as I wish it would some days, that book isn't just going to write itself. I need to sit my butt in front of my computer and actually work.

However, that said, sitting down at the computer without even a glimmer of inspiration is pretty much pointless for me. And sometimes, that inspiration is really hard to come by. But that doesn't mean that I have a free pass to go do something else. I have deadlines I need to meet, and sometimes the words just aren't there when I'm ready to write, so I need to find my inspiration. To do this, I need to work with what inspires me.

My top tactics involve music, visual imagery, going for a walk or a drive and showers.

Music is a pretty obvious one. Setting up a playlist that goes with the story I'm working on is invaluable.  It can help evoke the mood I want to convey and it comes with the great side effect of blocking out environmental distractions. But there's something even more magical about music. Even if I'm not actively focused on listening to the music because I'm writing, it's still making its way into my brain and creating subconscious connections and ideas that work their way into the story. Sometimes I do fine with music with lyrics other times I need instrumental arrangements. Find what works best for you.

Visual images are also helpful when it comes to story inspiration and why Pinterest is such a fantastic tool for me. Photographs and other artwork are a great jumping off point when it comes to settings, people and objects you might be describing. Now I'm not suggesting that you troll for images and insert those exact descriptions into your story, although, you certainly could. But I am suggesting that you look for images that convey the feeling you're looking to incorporate into your story. Using those images as a starting place can help give your story depth and guide it in new and exciting directions. Keep in mind that Pinterest is a giant rabbit hole that can be difficult to climb out of, so definitely consider setting a time limit.

Sometimes the best thing I can do when I'm looking for inspiration is to get away from my computer. Going for walks or a drive in the country or out to the lake shore is great way to free your mind. One part of your brain is concerned with the mechanics of driving or walking, but it requires a differnt sort of concentration. You're basically on autopilot while in another corner of your brain, your story is tumbling over and over like rocks in a polisher and eventually the polished gems of inspiration are going to tumble out and you'll be able to set them into your story. Now, I'm not suggesting that you completely zone out while you're walking or driving - that's just dangerous. And stupid. And I'm not a fan of either, but it is possible to do both. However, if you get an idea worth writing down, please stop/pull over before jotting it down in your notebook.

The shower is another great place of inspiration for me. If I'm not rushing to get out the door, I get the best ideas in the shower. In our house, we call it visits from the shower faery. It's the same sort of thing as getting ideas while you're walking or driving - your body is on autopilot freeing your brain to roll around and make connections that it might not have otherwise made. Also, there's something about water that helps loosen the subconscious which is why I like to hang out by lakes when I'm working on a book. But the shower is a great substitute if I can't get away. I get so many great ideas in the shower that I actually have a waterproof notepad mounted to the wall in there. It's one of the best gifts I was ever given.

This isn't even close to a comprehensive list of all the things you can do to chase down inspiration (or you know, lure it close enough to club) but these are the things that work for me. I'd love to hear what works for you. How do you get inspired when the words aren't flowing?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Who would you drop everything to meet?

For the sake of keeping the list short, I'm going to focus on just authors here, because heaven knows there are tons of people I'd drop everything to meet - musicians, artists and especially the friends I've met online that I'd love to meet in real life.

But author-wise, there aren't a ton that I'd drop everything to meet. Of course, there are plenty I'd love to meet, but only about four for whom I'd stop what I was doing and change my plans in order to go get my books signed and say hi.

This is the short list: Jenny Lawson, Neil Gaiman, Charles deLint and Maggie Steifvater.

I got my chance to meet Maggie on Friday night. I was planning on staying home and hanging with my husband since he'd just returned the night before from about a month overseas. I happened to check my twitter stream and noticed that Maggie was going to be in Michigan. In Lansing, as a matter of fact - only a couple hours from me.

But when he heard that my very favorite YA author was that close, he said, "What are you still doing sitting here? Get your books and go get them signed. You've got time to make it if you leave now."

I reminded him that he just got home and he said, "You don't get to meet your favorite author every day. I'll still be here when you get back. The boys and I will do FFY for supper." (In our house FFY means Fend For Yourself, and everyone makes his or her own supper.)

I told him he was the best husband ever. And he said, "No. If I were the best husband ever, I would have volunteered to drive you down there. Instead, I'm gonna sit here and play Guildwars."

So...I grabbed all my books and the GPS, jumped in the car and took off to Lansing to meet Maggie. She was absolutely awesome and didn't mind at all that I had eleven books for her to sign. Happily, neither did the other people I was in line with. And I still stand by my best husband ever comment.

Here's Maggie signing my sister's copy of The Raven Boys. (If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? It's flat out amazing!)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday's Children: Attention Deficit...Oh Shiny!

Recently, I saw a quote that said, "Being a good writer is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet."

Realistically, I think it's more than 3%, but the 97% seems about right. Yes, I know that more than 3% + 97% equals more than 100%. (I'm bad at math - but not that bad.) But the internet is so delightfully distracting, it often feels like it takes that much effort not to fall prey to its charms.

I mean, who doesn't want to check out the blogs of their favorite authors, or peruse Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords to see what new books look intriguing. Then there are the links a dear friend sends to me because she knows I'd be interested in reading the articles. I'm also guilty of looking at Pinterest for inspiration photos and getting sucked into the vortex of pretties. And let's not even talk about email distraction or the youtube links my kids send me. Most of these links are from my oldest son who says I suffer from Attention Deficit...Oh Shiny! That's a pretty apt description.

So how do I combat the shiny?

Mostly, I make deals with myself. I must write X number of words within an hour before I'm allowed to click one link. If I want to click another, I need to accomplish another word count goal. The same goes for checking email. If I go out to look at Pinterest, I set a timer. When it rings, I'm back to the manuscript.

Sometimes, I'll #wordwar on Twitter with writer friends. We post our hourly accomplishments and cheer each other on. Writing is a solitary activity, but it's helpful (not to mention motivating) to know that there are other people toiling away with you. It's sort of like making the internet work for you.

Occasionally, if I'm desperate and on a deadline, I'll just disable the internet on my computer. And it doesn't get turned back on until I reach a predetermined goal.

Figure out what works to keep yourself from being distracted and feel free to post some of your tips and tricks. Don't let this happen to you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What I did on my summer vacation...

During the summer, I usually spend a week in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with my family. It's one of the most gorgeous places known to man - forests that go on forever, waterfalls, the Great Lakes - well, three of them, at least. It has a kind of wild beauty that I never get tired of. And as a bonus, I've met some of the nicest people on my trips, too.

This summer, I managed two weeks in the UP. And better yet, one of them was a writers' retreat. There were six of us staying on the nearly deserted shoreline of Lake Superior writing our little hearts out. It was beyond amazing. There's something so energizing about staying with a bunch of friends who have the same interest in creating stories that you do. It was like a little commune with a common goal of making as much progress as possible on our books. In addition to writing, we laughed almost constantly. My face and my stomach ached for a week after we got home just from all the laughter. It was an amazing time.

The location was especially great for me since my series is set in a small town on the shores of Lake Superior. It was like being immersed in my story world - well, you know, minus the vengeful supernatural beings.

These are a few images from the trip.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How I Got Here

It's a little intimidating to go from cheerfully writing one genre for a number of years (five to be exact) and doing fairly well at it, to completely starting from scratch in another - but that's what I'm doing.

It's not that I don't enjoy the other genre and the stories I tell, but sometimes an idea takes hold and it won't let me go until I thoroughly explore it. And sometimes that story isn't even remotely related to what I've been doing. And trying to make it fit that mold feels beyond wrong. So I decided to quit fighting the idea and start writing it instead, throwing myself headlong into the world of young adult fiction.

It makes sense that I'd feel a pull toward YA - it's primarily what I read for pleasure. And writing it has made me incredibly happy. It's been incredibly freeing. I'm really excited about making this change and taking the next step in my writing journey.

I'm happily following a new path wherever it leads, and I hope you'll come along with me.