Wednesday, October 31, 2012

RTW: Feeling Halloweeny

 Roadtrip Wednesday today is about our favorite scary books and movies. As for me, I love all the kid movies and cartoons they play on tv this time of year. I'd rather watch those than adult horror movies to get in the Halloween mood. Here are just a few.

If you haven't seen it, you absolutely must see The Halloween Tree (or read the book, which I still need to do). It's a story of the history of Halloween, told to and through a small group of trick-or-treaters whose friend is sick with appendicitis. They go on a journey through Halloweens past to learn the origins of Halloween and also save their friend's life. I loved the animation and the story by Ray Bradbury that went with it.

Another movie I love is Hocus Pocus, followed closely by Casper. And if you're really into the season, you'll have to include The Addams Family and Addams Family Values. Pretty much anything with Christina Ricci being creepy.

That's it for my Halloween books and movies! How about yours?

To get you feeling Halloweeny, here are a couple songs I like:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ashes to Ashes...

And dust to dust.

I kept seeing so many sugar skull illustrations and photos of girls in sugar skull face paint on Deviantart that I had to try it with Lividia. This spontaneous digital illustration was done in roughly two hours.

Spooky, isn't she? She definitely wears skull makeup well. Whether this has bearing on her adventures in A Shadow Story or the books beyond, I'll never tell! Her eyes are closed for a reason.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Self-Imposed Deadlines and the Beauty of the Journey

Over on YA Highway today they're talking about Nanowrimo and who's going to participate. I've gone through a tug-of-war over Nano for two years now and I never end up participating. Once, I tried, but I quickly lost interest in my new concept and preferred to work on the series I'm hopelessly in love with. I also didn't include any word counts for Nano.

from the article: What's the point of Nanowrimo?
I always balk at things that 'everyone's doing' and wonder that a writing race can cause so much stir in the writing community. I'm glad so many are finding comradery in it, but those of us who don't participate have to wait a whole month before we become part of the community again. If you're not Nanoing, you're not cool. I'm not concerned about being cool, though. The cool people peak in high school.

I've heard too many stories of Nanoers hating their nano-spawn so that they don't touch it again after they finish. They rush their words to reach the quota instead of enjoying their story and the journey it takes them on. Then they're faced with a daunting pile of words to shape into a publishable story. But not every nanoer's goal is to publish, and not every nanoer hates their finished product at the end of the month. Some simply want to prove they can finish a novel in that time. That's a good enough reason to do Nano.

The main concern I have with Nano is the assumption it can work for everyone. I've learned that my process of writing (pantsing), researching, brainstorming, writing and editing wouldn't work for a goal like Nano. And that's perfectly fine.

This brings me to thanking everyone for their comments on the last post Is Your Path to Publication a Hiking Trail? My path is a hiking trail, but it's a lovely one. We aren't trying to race each other to publishing. If we were, there'd be a whole lot more self-published (and poorly-written) work out there.

So if you're doing Nano or not, don't forget your goals and your reason for having them. When things get tough, remind yourself what you've already accomplished and what you've learned.

Getting anxious on the trail happens, but it helps to remind yourself how far you've come. I've learned I can turn out a novel in a matter of months, going at my own pace, and I'm pretty proud of that.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Is Your Path to Publication a Hiking Trail?

I've reached my 200th blog post (the one before this) and I would've thought by now I'd be writing about the joys of publication, but my path seems to be a hiking trail rather than a sidewalk. It's taking the scenic route.

Here's my question to you. Would you prefer your path to publication be a sidewalk or a hiking trail?

appalachian hiking trail
I get frustrated reading the success stories of writers who have gotten the sidewalk path. It's short, paved, and has clearly marked signs along it. Fate has presented these people with a wonderful, sunlit stroll to publication that the rest of us only dream of. Fate, or the route they chose.

Every writer knows that before you get on the path to publication, you have to go through the forest of process: writing, revision, critique from peers, etc. This, for some, can be a very hard road. So, perhaps the people who get the sunlit sidewalk had a rough tangle of brambles to pass through beforehand. When all the focus is on the final leg of their journey, it's hard to tell.

Those of us who get the hiking trail face the danger of getting lost in the woods. There are no trail signs, no guides to recommend who to submit to, no one to help when our manuscript doesn't fit into a nice little query box. (It's very hard to wrap a query box when you don't know what label to put on it.)

Sometimes we end up doubling back down the trail to find an easier way - self-publication. Sometimes we give up on the trail and take a new one, shelving that manuscript in favor of another. Sometimes we get off the trail and tromp blindly through the underbrush (which I feel like I've been doing lately).

I don't even know if this is the trail I'm supposed to be on, which might be why I haven't gotten as far as I'd hoped. If it was, wouldn't I have been more successful? Wouldn't I have reached the sunlit sidewalk by now?

If you're asking yourself questions like these, share your experience in the comments. At least we know there are other hikers in these woods.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

RTW: What're You Writing in Your Stars?

Today's Roadtrip Wednesday from YA Highway asked the question:  
What do you hope to be writing in three years? Five?

mock-up design for 1st book

That's easy. I'll be writing my series. It's a YA fantasy that starts out in Victorian Boston and winds up in amazing places with amazing characters, creepy nursery figures, magic, the fae, and maybe even political intrigue. This idea is so big that it needs at least 3-5 years to complete. In three years, I hope to have an agent (of course) and to have gotten the first book published, the second book on the way to being published, and the third book in the works. I don't yet know how many books this series is going to have, but hopefully by the end of the second book I'll have a pretty good idea.

I also love my new job and don't think it's going anywhere, so I'll likely be working at the library in three years. (If an agent wants to rep me for my illustrations and that MFA can start paying itself off, I wouldn't mind either.)

What about you? What will you be writing/creating/doing in three years? Five years?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Motivational Advice from a Stone

I've heard all sorts of motivational advice - uplifting, inspirational, encouraging, self-esteem bolstering. Well, this post isn't about your self-esteem. The weak cannot handle this post. The weak also won't become best-selling authors or lauded illustrators, or anything strong-willed people want. You have to be strong-willed to accomplish something in life. Dreaming just won't cut it.

the actual stones
I'm always on the lookout for motivational tools that I can get behind, something that can nudge me in the right direction without being a drill sergeant about it. (Strong-willed people really fight against drill sergeant motivation.) I'd seen those pretty inspirational stones for sale before, but usually they cost more than I wanted to pay. So, when I found one at a thrift store for fifty cents (maybe even twenty-five) I picked it up. It was black and shiny and said "DREAM" in lovely white serif font. Now, I knew that a rock really couldn't inspire me that much... unless perhaps I kept it around my work area and looked at it all the time. So, I decided to set it in front of my keyboard and hope it would inspire me.

It was a lovely thought, but I didn't feel as inspired as I hoped I would. Eventually I realized a stone with the word "DREAM" on it, wasn't going to make me productive. I needed another word. I had to find another stone! I trolled Ebay (another wonderful way to spend a potentially-productive writing day) for such a stone, and eventually I found one. It was mottled white and said in no-nonsense depressed san-serif, "CREATE". This was it! I was sure that this stone, paired with my 'Dream' stone, would help me to finally see my goals through.

Guess what? It didn't. I still have those stones sitting in front of my keyboard, nudging at my conscious mind to DREAM and CREATE, but they mostly just make me feel guilty for not doing it.

Stones cannot do what I really want, and that's stir up the impulse in me to accomplish something. I'm a horrible procrastinator. I'm not proud of it, and try to combat it. The best advice I have for anyone like me is to just do it. Whatever it is. Right now. As soon as you think of it.

Don't write it down. Don't plan it for another day. Right now. Do it, or you never will. 

I seem to work best spontaneously. I spontaneously clean, spontaneously cook, spontaneously write. Eventually I'm going to have to teach myself to do these things on a schedule, but a little rebellious spark always balks against restraint, against control I feel I've lost. The cure to that is to latch onto the thought I get when I spontaneously do something, dwell on it until it's a raging desire to accomplish that goal, and then have at it. Encourage yourself, remind yourself how fun whatever you want to accomplish is, imagine the goal finished and how great it will look/feel/sound/taste.

I can't manage my job, my obligations, my creativity, without making them fun, without thinking how much I love whatever is before me. Eventually, I've found that the love I used to imagine is real and the desire to accomplish the goal is a driving force. I couldn't stop it if I tried.

We are not stones, and the impulse of creativity/productivity is not inert. It is motion. It is fire, and it pulls and pushes and makes you very uncomfortable until you take action. So take action now. No amount of gentle, happy words telling you how great you are can beat that.

(motivational music)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Do You Want To See More Of?

It was a long day and I have no idea what to blog about. I thought about a post on illustration and my feelings about it lately, but thought it was too personal. I thought about a post on what I think of Divergent by Veronica Roth, but I'm not finished with the book. I thought about a post on my library job and what it's taught me, how it makes me feel as a writer to be surrounded by other people's published work all the time. (I'll save that one for later.) I thought that I'd manage to hop on board the bloghop train this week, but ended up not having time.

Honestly, I just miss people reading my blog, miss people commenting on my blog, and miss writing posts so that people can read and comment. I'd love to know what you'd like me to post about, but the last time I left the question so open I received no responses. So, I'll make it easier.

Should I do more book posts? (opinions, reviews, etc)
More personal posts like my career struggles, publication struggles, life struggles and triumphs?
More informational posts like what I've learned from being a librarian, writing tips, illustration tips, query tips, etc?
Or more fluffy fun stuff like shared music or images, or me talking about how much I love a good villain? 

What do you want to see more of?

(watch this while you decide)

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