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I’m passionate about literature for young people. I love books that portray diverse experiences and cultures. I’ll be sharing my novel writing process, news from the publishing industry, books and authors, and other posts.
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1. Share Your Work

I recently read Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. It talks about the creative life and highlights 10 ways to find your audience by sharing your work and progress.

showyourwork

Here are some gems from the book that I thought I would share with you:

When she was young and starting out, Patti Smith got this advice from William Burroughs: “Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises. Don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work . . . and if you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.”

Don’t worry about everything you post being perfect. Science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon once said that 90 percent of everything is crap. The same is true of our own work. The trouble is, we don’t always know what’s good and what sucks. That’s why it’s important to get things in front of others and see how they react.

Just do the work that’s in front of you, and when it’s finished, ask yourself what you missed, what you could’ve done better, or what you couldn’t get to, and jump right into the next project.

Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.

If you spend your life avoiding vulnerability, you and your work will never truly connect with other people.

Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.

I also wrote a a blog post about the author’s other book, Steal Like An Artist.

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2. The Audacity of Self-Care

I was at the beach when I heard about the Charleston shootings. It just broke my heart. The kindness of strangers exploited by hate and racism.

It can be so overwhelming to figure out what you can do to make a difference. On my Twitter page, I have this pinned tweet, which is a paraphrase of a Theodore Roosevelt quote.



For those of you who have read this blog for awhile, you already know how close I was to my paternal grandmother. Growing up, we didn’t have much but my grandmother always took Sundays to take care of herself. She would wear her red lipstick, paint her nails, and do special treatments for her hair. Self-Care Sundays were born and I still continue this legacy today.

Life will continue to bring us challenges and we definitely have a lot of social justice work to do. But don’t forget about yourself. Sometimes it takes audacity to take care of yourself. It means in spite of everything, even if you have people who hate you, treat you unfairly, or persecute you, the practice of self-care means that you still have enough love to give the person that matters most. To paraphrase from one of my favorite poems — when everyday something has tried to kill you and has failed — self-care can be an act of defiance.

Speaking of self-care, here’s someone who takes it to whole other level. Here’s an Instagram post of Shakira the Shih-Tzu lounging on the beach enjoying the breeze and the sun.

This is a happy beach dog #beachlife #beachdog #dogsofinstagram #shihtzu

A photo posted by Karen Strong (@karenmusings) on



Take care of yourself!

2 Comments on The Audacity of Self-Care, last added: 6/26/2015
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3. No Money, More Problems

Yesterday morning during my (short) commute, I was listening to Dear Sugar, which is one of my favorite podcasts.

dearsugar

In the 13th episode, the subject was about money.

One of the letters was about how a young woman felt bad that she was rich and wondered if it was her wealth privilege that gave her access to being able to be an artist.

It’s true that making art — especially writing — requires a lot of time, which many people don’t have because of family responsibilities, jobs, or bills.

Growing up working-class, it wasn’t even an option for me to even think about writing until I was on my feet financially and well into a career that could support me.

On the podcast, the hosts talk about the importance of having a patron. It got me thinking: Does being an artist require you to have a patron?

When I think of patron, I think of a rich person who sponsors you or getting an endowment or residency from an arts program. But maybe for people who don’t have access to such things, it could be as simple as a supportive critique partner or a writing mentor maybe even getting a scholarship to a MFA program. Cultivating an artist takes time, which in most cases also involves money.

It can be done of course. Anything worth having isn’t easy. It may take longer and require lots of discipline and focus to get where you want to be.

But I always think about the obstacles. I often wonder how many talented novelists we’ve lost due to them not having access to time and money.

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4. Library Love

My love of libraries started when I was a kid when I used to go with my mother on Sundays and we would stay until it closed. I still remember the pale pink library card that I got when I was eight years old.

Since I’ve moved into my new place, I’ve been reunited with the public library that I loved when I first moved to Atlanta. Since I my commute is so much shorter now, I’ve been able to spend more time reading books. So. Many. Books.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you already know how I post my library finds.

So to celebrate my love, here’s a collection of my library finds since I’ve moved back into the city.





2 Comments on Library Love, last added: 6/11/2015
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5. Imagine This

One of my favorite books last year was Imagine This: Creating the Work You Love by Maxine Clair. I recently revisited this book again to relish some of the gems of wisdom that it gave me.

imaginethis
The author goes through her journey from a scientist to artist. It is a book about how to find and develop our inner and creative outlets. Here are just a few of my favorite passages:

“Perceptions about who should be doing what at what age are unproductive. It is never the wrong ime to express yourself.”

“When something chooses you, choose back. Commit and follow through. When you choose back, you give your word to yourself and to the universe.”

“In order to commit, you have to be clear about your intention, and mentally evaporate the fog that stymies your imagination.”

“The choices you make about the work you would love to be doing are always tied to your life purpose, and will bring fulfillment.”

“There is no such thing as too late, or already done. You are always coming into your next best-yet-to-be, waking up again and again to your newest expression.”

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6. Novel Wisdom (27)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

giveyouthesun

From Jude, twin sister of Noah and one of the narrators of the novel I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Because who knows? Who knows anything? Who knows who’s pulling the strings? Or what is? Or how? Who knows if destiny is just how you tell yourself the story of your life?

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7. Art & Fear

One of my favorite books on creativity is the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

Art&Fear

It’s a book I always go back to when I’m struggling with revisions or staying consistent with my writing.

Here are a few of the gems that I wanted to share with you from this invaluable book:

In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.

Art is a high calling — fears are coincidental. Coincidental, sneaky and disruptive, we might add, distinguishing themselves variously as laziness, resistance to deadlines, irritation with materials or surroundings, distraction over the achievements of others — indeed as anything that keeps you from giving your work your best show. What separates artists from ex-artists is that who challenge their fears, continue; those who don’t, quit.

Quitting is fundamentally different from stopping. The latter of happens all the time. Quitting happens once. Quitting means not starting again – and art is all about starting again.

Talent may get someone off the starting blocks faster, but without a sense of direction or a goal to strive for, it won’t count for much. The world is filled with people who were given great natural gifts, sometimes conspicuously flashy gifts, yet never product anything.

In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice…between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot — and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy.

If you’re on Twitter, you can also finds lots of inspiration and other quotes at #ArtandFear.

2 Comments on Art & Fear, last added: 5/13/2015
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8. The Writer’s Guide to Persistence

Still in the revision cave. The middle is a rough place to be but there is light at the end of the tunnel of this current novel project. Still on track to be finished with this particular novel this summer.

Currently I’m reading The Writer’s Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld. She’s also the author of one of my favorite craft books Make A Scene , which I also highly recommend.

This book is for writers who want to start and preserve a writing practice. Persistence is the key along with finding ways to balance writing with the rest of your life.

WritersGuidetoPersistence

I’m really loving the book so far. When I’m finished, I’ll be sure to share any gems that may also be helpful to you in your writing practice in another post.

For those of you on Twitter, you can follow the author @Jordanrosenfeld. She has a great hashtag #WritersGuide2Persistence where she gives great motivation and advice for keeping your writer’s practice on track.

Hope everyone is writing and that life is treating you well.

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9. 2015 Spring TBR List

I’m so glad that Spring is here and the sun is shining. I’m revising and figuring out possible solutions to the mess I created in the middle of my current novel project. Can I just share with you how much I LOATHE middles? Such a pain.

I’m so happy about all the lovely Spring books that are coming out. I can’t wait to get my hands on to read them. Here are just of few that I have added to my To-Be-Read (TBR) list:

2015SPRTBRList

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio
All The Rage by Courtney Summers
Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin
Endangered by Lamar Giles
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headle
The Messengers by Edward Hogan
The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

How about you? What have you read lately? What do you plan to read in the warmth of the sun?

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10. Novel Wisdom (26)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

This book centers on a character who does production design for films. Since I’ve read this book, every time I watch a movie, I take extra care looking at a set design. I think about all the care that was put into a setting or room that may only be on the screen for a few minutes. Amazing how a book can stay with you long after you’ve read it.

I’m in the middle of revisions. Maybe I should say re-vision. I have 4 parts to my novel and I’ve finished the Part 1 but Part 2 is gonna be interesting. Several plot holes and snags to think about. But gotta keep going. Which brings me to this quote that I remember from this book.

everythingleadstoyou
From Toby, brother of Emi, the narrator of the novel Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

“This is how it works. You bust your ass. Not everything goes your way, and then, after a while, you get to that point. You get to make your own decisions and people look to you for approval on their work.”

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11. Pandemic Novels

I recently finished reading Station Eleven. I had heard so many good things about this book.

I wasn’t disappointed by the writing and the characters. But I have to admit, this book had me at flu pandemic.

I love a pandemic.

Pandemics in novels are not a new premise. It’s been done thousands of times, which proves that there are no new stories under the sun; however, it all depends upon what the writer brings to the story — the plot, the characters, the setting.

So then I started thinking of other pandemic novels that I loved — each of them very different. Here’s a few from my list:

pandemics

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson
A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer
Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Stand by Stephen King

Do you also love pandemic, end-of-the-world novels as much as I do? Let me know your favorites — I’m always on the lookout.

4 Comments on Pandemic Novels, last added: 3/12/2015
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12. Novel Openings

I love it when I open a book and I fall in love with the words and the character.

I’m currently working on the opening of my current Work-In-Progress (WIP). After this revision, it will probably change. But that’s okay. For inspiration, I tend to go back to some of my favorite books and relish over the opening.

Here’s just a few of my favorites:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

AristotleDante

One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same. I threw off the sheets and lay there as the heat poured in through my open window.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

ignoreveradietz

The pastor is saying something about how Charlie was a free spirit. He was and he wasn’t. He was free because on the inside he was tied up in knots. He lived hard because inside he was dying. Charlie made inner conflict look delicious.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

cress

Her satellite made one full orbit around planet Earth every sixteen hours. It was a prison that came with an endlessly breathtaking view — vast oceans and swirling clouds that set half the world on fire.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

darkhollowplaces

The city used to be something once. I’ve seen pictures of the way it gleamed – sun so bright off the windows it could burn your eyes. At night, lights shouted from steel like catcalls, loud and lewd, while all day long white-gloved men rushed to open doors for women who tottered about on skyscraper heels.

What are some of your favorite novel openings? I would love to hear about them.

4 Comments on Novel Openings, last added: 2/18/2015
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13. Trust Yourself

One of my favorite writing books is Writing is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor. I found it last summer during a bookstore browse — and I’ve been raving about it ever since. It’s hard to define this book. It’s basically a memoir but based on the writer’s journey. I think it will speak to writers who are trying to find their way and their voice.

writingismydrink

Let’s face it, writing can be hard. I’m working on revisions and I want to be done in the Spring so that I can move on to my next project. But I want to finish the book I’m writing now. This book has put on the back burner so many times because of obligations and life events so I want to finish it. I also feel that I must make it worthy and then I start to freak out because what if I can’t make that happen?

When I was reading Writing is My Drink, this passage made me realize that I have to just let go and trust myself. Here’s what the author had to say on this:

Writing requires trust: trust that words will find you, that the unknown will become known, that the mystery will be solved, that the story will find its arc, that you will find your story and your voice, that your voice will be heard, that you will be understood. But most of all, writing requires you to trust yourself, the source of the voice inside you that supplies the next word, the next line, the next idea. And until you can access some of this trust, you won’t be able to write the stories you want to write the way you want to write them.

So whether you’re revising or starting new draft — don’t be so hard on yourself. Trust yourself. Know that you will find the structure of your story and find the best way to write it.

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14. Some Zen For You

Hope that everyone is doing well. Winter is still with us and I hope you are nice and warm wherever are.

Things are getting back to “normal” — although it will never be like what my life was before — but the good news is that I’m reading a lot — I read 6 lovely books last month, which may be a record for me. A benefit of moving into the city and drastically cutting my commute time. The even better news is that I’m also back on my revisions.

For those of you who have known me and this blog for awhile, you know I love to connect with my “Inner Zen” — one of my favorite online places is Zen Habits. Here’s a recent post that I loved because it spoke to me about life and also can be translated to writing as well. So I wanted to share it with you:

So that day, she stopped trying to protect an imaginary gem. She stopped trying to be right, to be seen as good and competent and smart and perfect, to see herself as a good person at all times. She stopped thinking that other people’s words and actions had anything to do with what she imagined herself to be. She stopped trying to protect her position and self-image.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Get some writing done!

6 Comments on Some Zen For You, last added: 2/7/2015
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15. Novel Wisdom (25)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

This is a book I found at my public library. It’s been on my radar for awhile and I was happy when I saw it on the shelf. Ironically, I had just re-read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath the week before so maybe it was kismet since this book revolves around this author.

This novel centers around several teens who are all going through their unique traumas. This particular line spoke to me because we have all been through some type of trial or trauma ourselves and sometimes we just want it to be over — but sometimes you just have to go through whatever it is that has hurt you before you can move on.

Belzhar
From Jam, the narrator of the novel Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

“I hadn’t known that if you hold on, if you force yourself as hard as you can to find some kind of patience in the middle of all your impatience, things can change. It’s big, and it’s always incredibly messy. But there’s no way around the mess.”

1 Comments on Novel Wisdom (25), last added: 1/31/2015
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16. 2015 Winter TBR List

I still have tons of books on my “To Be Read” (TBR) list but I can’t seem to stop myself from adding even more books to my leaning pile. There are lots of new lovelies coming out.

Here are just a few books that I plan to read this Winter:

2015Winter_Small

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers
Vivan Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Hold Tight Don’t Let Go by Laura Rose Wagner
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
When by Victoria Laurie
When My Heart was Wicked by Tricia Sterling

How about you? What have you read lately? What do you plan to cozy up and read before the Spring thaw?

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17. Terrible Titles Blog Hop

Today I was tagged by one of writer friends Courtney Leigh to join in the Terrible Titles blog hop.

The idea is simple. Scroll through a WIP and let your cursor randomly land somewhere. That phrase or sentence becomes a terrible title. Do this about eight times and see what you come up with.

These Terrible Titles come from my current novel project LINEAGE:

  1. Her favorite was the Lip Gloss Mafia.
  2. Until bras and body hair.
  3. Poor math deficient child.
  4. Yes, I do love the feel of cash myself.
  5. The Killer Girl would be me.
  6. Shut-up and thanks.
  7. The ultimate walk of shame.
  8. You playing stake out in front of my house was getting old.

Ha. These are not the best titles at all. But kinda of funny don’t you think?

Thanks for tagging me Courtney. :)

5 Comments on Terrible Titles Blog Hop, last added: 1/9/2015
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18. (Re)Evaluating a Year

The year is coming to a close.

When 2014 first opened up, there were shiny new ideas, bursts of energy, and an overall hopeful outlook of a clean slate. It was a chance to get things right, get things done, and end the year with a feeling of accomplishment.

There were the things we thought we would manage: distractions, obligations, responsibilities.

But then there were the things we never saw coming: illness, social injustices, death of loved ones.

The year may have worn us all down. It could have been small cuts. Or devastating blows. Or deep wounds that are still quite not healed.

Either way, you’re standing on the cusp of a new year and you may not feel that you’ve done what you wanted. Now at the end, you may be left with the feeling that another year has slipped by. One more chance has been wasted. The initial evaluation of the year looks like another wash-up. No real successes. Another failure.

Maybe not.

Maybe it wasn’t at all bad. Let go of evaluating the disappointments, lost battles, and setbacks. Maybe instead concentrate on all the good things that happened to you in 2014. Focus instead on the intangible successes and give gratitude for your blessings — no matter how small. Make a list.

For me, here are some things from my list:

  • Being recognized and valued for my skills at my job
  • Selling my house and moving to the city
  • Developing a morning writing routine
  • Creating a total of 45K new words
  • Keeping the promise to travel for quarterly vacations
  • Making beautiful memories with my father
  • Listening to my heart and giving it a voice

I’m sure you can make your own list as well. Write it out. Glow in its truth and then get ready to face 2015 not as broken and bitter but as open and optimistic.

0 Comments on (Re)Evaluating a Year as of 12/17/2014 9:10:00 AM
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19. Your Writer Journey

During my July hiatus, several things have started to click together for the benefit of my writing.

I finished the 18-month stint of a major software project, which frees up more time for me to work on the novel and I’ve decided to put the house up for sale! I have about a 2-3 hour daily commute and it’s been a drain to say the least. So now that the real estate market is in my favor, I will have an opportunity to move closer to the city. So excited!

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the writer journey. How as writers we go through the valleys and peaks and then maybe stumble and have to work hard to find our way again. This summer I’ve had several conversations with writer friends about envy, disappointment, and disillusionment.

I always try to steer myself back to one of the things I want to do LESS of in 2014: Compare myself to other people.

I’ve been on my writing journey for a while but started seriously 5 years ago when I started this blog. Within this timeframe, this has been the journey of some other writers:

  • Has published several books and just signed another multi-book deal.
  • Has struggled with getting better at writing but lacks time and money.
  • Has become a mainstay on the New York Bestsellers list.
  • Has made the painful decision to stop writing.
  • Has worked hard and now on the verge of a major breakthrough.

I’m sure if you were to create a list, you would have the same varied experiences of writers that started within the same time frame of your journey as well. You could compare yourself to the list and be left feeling smug, indifferent, jealous or depressed.

The thing is all of those writers had different paths. Paths based on different wants, needs, priorities, opportunities, privileges, and luck.

Those paths are not your path. It’s not your writer journey.

Never forget: You are the only one in the Universe that can write the words for the story that needs to be told.

No one else.

No matter how long it’s been or how long it takes.

Never give up on your journey to be the best writer you can be.

6 Comments on Your Writer Journey, last added: 8/6/2014
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20. The Depression Stigma

She woke up torpid each morning, slowed by sadness, frightened by the endless stretch of day that lay ahead. Everything had thickened. She was swallowed, lost in a viscous haze, shrouded in a soup of nothingness. Between her and what she should feel, there was a gap. She cared about nothing. She wanted to care, but she no longer knew how; it had slipped from her memory, the ability to care. Sometimes she woke up flailing and helpless, and she saw, in front of her and behind her and all around her, an utter hopelessness

From Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I read this passage in the above novel, I thought that this was probably the most accurate description of what depression can feel like. Depression can be a relentless and elusive entity.

There has been a lot of talk lately about depression due to recent death of Robin Williams. As writers with our creative spirit, we tend to live inside our heads. It can be very easy to go into a downward spiral. Between writer’s block, rejection letters, dealing with envy and comparing yourself to other writers, it’s easy to fall into depression’s grip.

The thing about our society is that everyone feels that they should be happy all the time and then feel guilty when they don’t. Social media doesn’t help much either because we tend to only share our sunny days instead of our stormy ones.

Then there’s the stigma that people with depression are weak and need to get a grip. This is probably the most common reason that people hide their feelings. Sometimes the happiest people can be the saddest people. Emotions are sticky and private. They can be overwhelming. It’s messy work and makes people uncomfortable. It’s hard to share when the possible reply could be a brush off instead of empathy. It’s hard to be vulnerable with your emotions. It’s much better to fake it and pretend that everything is okay.

The most important thing is that you shouldn’t ignore the feelings. It could be more than a case of having a bad day or melancholy. Events like heartbreak, death of a loved one, or other personal losses can have an effect over a prolonged period of time.

So don’t ignore these feelings. They are real. Don’t feel guilty that you should feel happy. You are not weak. And most important, don’t feel like there is no hope. The trick of depression is that it tells you that you don’t matter and nobody cares. But that is a total lie: You do matter and there are people who care. Ask for help. It is waiting for you.

1 Comments on The Depression Stigma, last added: 8/14/2014
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21. Before and After

I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures – Gail Caldwell.

My life has dramatically changed since my last blog post.

My father suddenly passed away on August 13th. A total shock to everyone who loved him.

Now I see my life separated into two watersheds: Before and After.

I ask myself what happens now that I’m in the After? Things will never be the same. There will now always be something different. Something always missing. It can never be like it was in the Before.

I found the above quote on Pinterest and it spoke to me — because I would like to think there is hope into carving myself into a different, kinder creature with this great loss.

Books and writing have always saved me. With the difficult times ahead of me, I now know that books and writing will save me again.

My blogging may be sporadic but I plan to share inspiring gems from my reading and then when I’m ready I’ll start back on the novel revision. My father wouldn’t want me to give up and I know the writing will be waiting for me when I return.

6 Comments on Before and After, last added: 9/11/2014
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22. Novel Wisdom (24)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

It’s very easy to get burdened down with worries and regret and things that could been done a different way. One of the things I’ve been learning is just to take each day as it comes with a fresh start.

I read this book based on a Twitter post from the author Nova Ren Suma, who taught a fabulous online writing workshop that I loved and learned much. It was a haunting literary novel set in the 80’s about a girl who has no choice but to endure her circumstances.

From Joon, the narrator of the novel Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun

milesfromnowhere
“And at the start of every new day, I still believed I could choose my own beginning, one that was scrubbed clean of everything past.”

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23. Writing Again

I knew it would happen but it feels good to actually know that my characters are speaking to me and that I’ve been writing.

I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) — I’m TrueImage if you want to buddy me. I’ve never won NaNoWriMo and I’m usually a slow writer but a lot of my writer friends are participating so I knew I would have lots of support and I also knew it would be a good way to get back into the writing habit without the pressure. Perfection is a weakness of mine and getting words down on the page without an internal editor could result in some great things to revise later. Technically, I’m not writing a novel from scratch but new scenes for my revision. I hate drafting. Ugh. Hopefully NanoWritMo will help me get them done.

On the first day of NanoWriMo when I wrote 644 words, it felt amazing. The first new words that I had written since my father passed away in August. It was as if I had never left my story. My characters, plot twist, and even that stupid chapter 34 were all waiting for me to come back to them.

I’ve also started back writing at night. I’m a night owl by nature so this is most beneficial to me. Since I’ve moved into the city, I’ve gained a good chunk of time back into my life that I can dedicate to my writing. Plus that 5:30 am wake-up call had lost all its sex appeal.

The thing I’m most proud about is that I’m still writing and still striving. Even with everything that has happened in the last few months, I know I still have the things that give me that rush — words, characters, plot, drama, and storytelling.

For those of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo — good luck! I’m usually writing between the hours of 8:30pm and 10:00pm so you can join me and share your word count and your progress with me on Twitter at @KarenMusings.

2 Comments on Writing Again, last added: 11/12/2014
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24. Anatomy of a Morning Writing Session

NaNoWriMo is finished. I didn’t win but I did get more words down than I had in a long time. Winning was not my ultimate goal but to get back in the habit of facing the blank page and to start writing again.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that writing in the morning is where I got the best results. In the past, I wrote at night but my day job responsibilities have changed dramatically and my brain cells are low by evening.

It’s wasn’t very appealing at first but once it became a habit again, I loved the boost it gave me because it meant I was putting writing as a priority — the first thing I do in the day and word by word I found myself getting my confidence back.

It’s very hard to get back into your story after distractions or any kind of emotional trauma. And if you have a perfectionist bent like me, it can be even more discouraging because you know there is still work to do as well.

The point is, you must keep going. You can’t give up. You are not in competition with anyone else. You are unique and you also have a story to tell. You can only do this one word at a time.

With my morning sessions, I have a few things I do and I thought I would share them with you:

  • Coffee Meditation: The fact for me is that I need coffee to become conscious. After I make my coffee, I sit and sip and think about what I want to write or revise or on most days I sit in silence and wait for my mind to wake up. After the caffeine has kicked in and I can go face the page.
  • Reading Selection: I read a chapter from my always huge TBR leaning tower of books. It gives me the inspiration I need or if I’m reading fiction, it can give me an example of how a particular scene can be done. This week, I’m reading Imagine This by Maxine Clair.
  • Writer Journal: I’ve had a writer journal for years. This is the place where I write about my progress or story ideas. It’s a hodgepodge of things related to the writing process only. This is the first writing I do. It’s almost like a warm-up in a way.
  • Word quota or Revision Goal: If I’m writing draft, I usually set a 250 or a 500 word quota if I’m a drafting a scene. No editing, no correcting. Just getting words down on the page. If I’m revising, I set a goal to revise a specific chapter or a specific scene.
  • Next Day Prep: I think about what I want to work on the next day. It gives me something to look forward to and gets my subconscious percolating about ideas.

My writing session usually is around 2 hours (5:30 am to 7:30 am). Usually the sun is just starting to rise when I’m done. The city starts to wake up and then I go about my day feeling like a bad ass who has worked on her novel.

Morning sessions are what work for me. Do you have a structure or specific time that you work on your writing?

6 Comments on Anatomy of a Morning Writing Session, last added: 12/3/2014
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25. 2014 Book Favorites

I didn’t get a chance to read everything on my leaning tower of TBR books this year, but here’s a list of some the books that I did enjoy. I would love to hear about your favorite books that you read on 2014.

Young Adult Fiction

2014YA
Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Tyalor
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Adult Fiction

2014Fic
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Girls With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

Memoir & Essays

2014MemEssays

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Writer Inspiration

2014Inspir

Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer
Writing is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor
Imagine This by Maxine Clair

4 Comments on 2014 Book Favorites, last added: 12/11/2014
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