New Website, New Awesome

My site has moved!

Please head over to my official website, to see what's been happening, read my blog, or find out about my books. While I'll be leaving this website up for a few months during the transition, no new content will be uploaded here.

I can't wait to see you at the new digs!

Creative Floods, Depresso Bull$()!+, and Life Stuffs

Guys, these last two months have been a horrible, fantastic mess. On the bright side, I finished the first draft of WILD TYPE and couldn't be happier with how it turned out. I have loved this book for so long now and when I hit the end of this draft I was on cloud nine!

Then, I crashed into depression-ville and actually sat around completely bored, hollow, in a paralyzing funk with no sense of direction, and wanted and did cry about stupid things. As these things go, I told as few people as possible for as long as possible until it just felt damn obvious that Margie was struggling to fake the smiles. I'm a self-isolator. I know that. Let's not discuss it.

After that, as I started with my usual coping strategy (complete with obsessing about whether or not the black cloud will ever leave and if I'm permanently broken), fresh ideas sprung forward. The creative flood occurred. (This flood I occasionally get may be the ONLY upside to chemical imbalance. [See how I didn't say it was me, but a chemical imbalance? Now there's a coping strategy for you.])

As for this flood, I now have a list of no less than five other books I think have potential and another string of six or seven titles I think I could use as short stories which read independently but could be linked together. These are the things I love--when the flood is pulling me along rather than under. Granted, then comes the issues of being in too deep, thinking about stories and characters too much, but that's a topic for another day.

All in all, I've learned to ride out the depressive rip currents as well as the creative floods. They are a pair and I can't seem to have one without the other. On the bright side, however, I can see so much potential for wonderment and magic in these new story ideas that it fuels me to work harder. I know this blog can get stale if I only talk about writing, but in all honestly, that's basically what I do. The day to day stuff I can tweet, the meat and potatoes is saved for you. You're welcome?

Sometimes, I struggle in life. I wonder what I should share and what I should hide. I also struggle with what this blog is from time to time and how I want it to be, what I want it to be. Above all else, I believe it should be honest and I will always approach it with honesty. In no way do I want pity or even sympathy for talking about my depressions. I hate it when other people do it since there's really nothing to say in return, but by God, if I don't bring it up, no one would know and that's where that monster lives: in the space where no one else can see it.

My writing I can hide behind, show you a world so you'll look the other way, but I don't want anything, including depression, hiding within me. There's more room for creative floods when the light is bright and there are no dark corners.

Why Everyone Needs To Make Some Noise In Life

My neighbor is moving. The Fam and I live in a duplex, so really we only share a few walls with this one single, chain-smoking, cat-loving woman who's relatively quiet, as are we. Today there's a moving truck in the drive and a million adults and children working like a nest of ants to haul all the belongings of the last seven years into this truck, and let me tell you, it's loud. Through all the clanking and yelling, thumping and banging, there isn't much room for having a quiet day on our side of the unit.

Initially I was doing a lot of eye rolling. This was my writing day and they were altering what I had preplanned for. But then I shifted gears, calmed down, and thought that for her this is a huge day. She's starting over in another state and everything familiar about her routine and day to day life are ending. Of course, there's bound to be a ton of noise. She's branching out and growing like a freshly pruned plant and frankly, I'm surprised there's not more noise in this act of rebirth. Sure, she may not be thinking of it like that as she carried box after box to the truck in ninety degree heat, but I'm certain she's changing in this experience. Hell, she's even literally uprooted all of her plants and bundled them for transplant at her new home.

Then something occurred to me: I've just returned home from a few days with fantastic writer friends and I think the only time we shut up was to sleep. We gabbed and giggled for hours. There was nothing but noise from sun up to sun down, but I promise you, I've grown richer in terms of my experiences and writing because of all that wonderful noise. So while I'm still and always will be a relatively quiet person, I've learned the value now of making some noise and breaking the shells around us that we thought we permanent. You need noise in your life sometimes so you can enjoy the richness and growth of the silence afterward.

On Writing Gods and Summer Vacations

It's June. Kiddo is home for the summer and the Writing Gods seem to have a knack for cramming tight deadlines into the whims, wants, and needs of bored school children with a sudden expansive estate of open, unstructured time. That's right, my "writing" days of free time, alone, by myself, uninterrupted, are gone until the middle of August.

So let's talk about excuses. This is a PERFECT time for me to say, meh, guess I can't write today--gotta watch the child, got to clean the house, got to make babysitting plans for the days I work. All of those sound like the easy way out of writing. They are. These days/weeks/months (summer, for me, other times for you) turn into the best excuses. It just makes sense to "take a break" or "relax a little."

For me, however, the excuses (even mine) are heard for what they are: procrastination with a backstory.

While it seems very convenient to bow down to the Writing Gods' will and just give in, because, hey, the kid's got to eat/play/be taken to gymnastics, this scenario is totally the tunnel painted onto the brick wall. I will slam into that sucker at full speed if I'm not careful and by the time I come to, months will have past and no writing will have been done.

What I have discovered over the years is that the kryptonite of excuses is dedication and a plan. As I mentioned above, I'm working on some tight deadlines right now. If these dates aren't hit, I will crumble. I need to hit my mark each time in order to feel progress within myself. A sense of accomplishment cannot come without measured goals, after all.

What I didn't mention above is that these deadlines which are so tight and foreboding are my own. This is where dedication comes in. Yep, they are MY push on myself to produce X amount of work by Y date. If I miss them, no one but me notices. If I hit them, no one but me notices. The key is that I'm building and nurturing a discipline for myself which is productive. And each time I build up a new discipline, I find it easier to tack a little more on.

Initially (ten/twelve years ago?) my writing discipline was about just shitting or getting off the pot in terms of writing regularly. Then, I started to make it a daily goal. Then, because I had written, I began a routine of regular editing paired with daily writing. All of this is to say that there was, in fact, a summer season during each year of my discipline journey and each year I've grown better able to tackle the excuses and power through the temptation to "just take a break for a little while." I manage my time tighter to offer loads of interaction with kiddo followed by down time where we each do our own thing, mine being writing.

So, as the Writing Gods poke and prod at my deadlines, and glare at my late nights spend hunched over the keyboard, I know that I'm creating something here that I'll be proud of come fall. To me, that is more satisfying than any well said excuse.

Complete and Total Distractions

As a writer, my job is to sit still and dump out words onto the page to make a story you can read. My hope is always to give you the best ride I can with great characters and rich development of plot and said characters. This requires many, many, m a n y hours of solitude. As an introvert, I'm not complaining, but it is important to leave home every now and then and see the world around me.

Well, along comes "spring break" for kiddo. Suddenly there's this beautiful child in the house with me and she's not so keen on me sitting in the same chair all day. So, I went outside. We explored the NC Zoo (amazing) and she started taking a gymnastics class that she loves. Yes, I can still do a cartwheel and a round-off, thank you very much.

I also took this time to clean the entire house minimalist style and we donated boxes and boxes of items to our local Goodwill. It also got me thinking that I'd really like to replace our current sofa and loveseat since they don't match and are really old. I mean, one of them is, I swear, thirty years old. I made forts from those cushions when I was a kid. No lie. That means I started to shop online and out and about in town. There's a lot to consider when buying something like this and I'm terribly frugal, so this will not be a quick decision and I expect to shop for months to come.

But what does all of this activity mean? I've not gotten as much writing done as I planned. I aim to pull down 500 words every day no matter if I worked that day at my job or I was off. 1000 words is ideal; 500 is my minimum. It just didn't happen this week. I got totally distracted from my personal goals, and I became disappointed in myself for that.

In life we're often harder on ourselves than anyone else. It just happens. We make choices for one thing knowing full well we're turning our back on the other. However, as much as I dissed on myself for not getting my full writing goals met, I did get time to think, to ponder my characters. I have to say, sometimes that time away from the keyboard, when no words get out, can be some of the most productive story time ever.

So, while I don't have my new couch (yet), and while I still have closets full of things I don't need, and now I'm set to take kiddo to gymnastics class weekly, I did gain a lot in terms of plot which makes me happy. I guess the point is that sometimes our distractions can give us something in return we didn't expect. There's a beauty to losing yourself in another task and then returning to your "regularly scheduled program" renewed.

Going to make this quick

Hey guys, just checking in for the first time since I've decided NOT to attempt only big, life altering posts anymore. In all honesty, it's rather freeing since I'm not waiting for a spark of insight to happen before I post.

So, what's been happening? Queries are big talk in my world right now. The quest for an agent is one thing, but this is a quest for the "right" agent, so there's a lot more research and thought put into who I send my work to than I originally lied to myself about. That said, I did get a request for a full manuscript that made my day and since I've rewritten my query (for the umpteenth time), I've noticed I get a lot more personal rejections. (If you aren't in the writing world, just know that 'personal' rejections are actually a positive.)

Also, I'm past 20,000 words on Wild Type, and have been doing lots of really interesting research about explorers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of it is just interesting, but some elements have been really useful for me. Also, I've been looking at Lewis & Clark pretty carefully since their journey west is similar in some ways to my main character's journey west. (And I'm reading Manifest Destiny, the comic put out by Image, which makes Lewis and Clark into monster hunters and Sacagawea is pretty well badass. Not research, but fun.) Anyway, Wild Type will be out of first draft stage come the end of June. I'm on track for that.

Lastly, edits of The Unruly are going strong, I'm a week behind my regular schedule, but it's due to some necessary restructuring and I'll recover that ground over the next two weeks and be back on track (my preplanned track) to finishing all edits of that book before the end of the year.

Otherwise, I'm good. Been an Olympic watching addict and reading The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin. I just finished The Drowning Girl by Caitlin Kiernan and it was flipping amazing. Sometimes you realize when the bar has been raised and Kiernan certainly did it. It will be a long time before I find a book as good as that again.

Ha, and I said this would be quick. Okay, forget that. I apparently can't make it quick so you'll have to settle for this long "quick" post. Thanks for reading!

Sports, and Stuff, and Decisions

I've been thinking a lot about the blog lately. A LOT. Mostly, I've been entertaining the idea of maintaining balance while still managing to keep up with my contact with you. So here are my thoughts, right up front: I'm going to stop waiting for those big moments when I have "something major" to say or address. Too often I'm waiting for something pivotal to happen, so no post happens at all or they end up several weeks apart. Not that suddenly my blog, which I hope people enjoy, will turn to fluff, but that there will be some lighter elements too so it feels less daunting to me to write in it regularly. That's first.

Second, sports, I suppose. Feels like this should be a longer post already because I have a lot to say about sports as a whole but here's the simple meat of what I want to say about that. My firmed-up, writing discipline came from NaNoWriMo. I know how to write, I was taught great things about writing, but NaNo gave me that kick in the ass to sit down and have some damn self-discipline. How that relates to sports is this: When NaNo time comes in November, the NFL is in full swing. I get super excited for football because when I see football, I associate that with whole blocks of writing time I can squeeze in while in front of the TV. That said, the Superbowl just ended football season for me, so now we're on to the Olympics. That's right, if you're a wanna-be writer, don't just sit there and watch the "games," write through them. Squeeze out that writing time. I'm doing it right now to create this post.

Lastly, stuff. My stuff. What's been happening for me since the last post. I've put my query in a contest to get feedback and that's helped tremendously. I've written over 15K words on Wild Type, my current WIP, and I've edited up to chapter six in The Unruly, the sequel to The Flame Wars. Basically, that's it. I have another round of queries going out to agents coming, so that always takes a lot of work to research and prepare and reread and reread and reread again. Otherwise, I keep a steady pace of edits and new writing daily. SELF-discipline is the key there. And self-reliance. Never underestimate the power of "self."

Have thoughts on my thoughts? Share in the comments below.