Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Obsessions: Sleep, "Sinner's Sonnet," and Crushed Ice.

Welcome to the lowest-energy Friday Obsessions to date. You all know who you can blame. Thanks for being here anyway.

This week's summary - Physical discomfort even worse. Query trenches even more of a bummer. I think there may be lice now.  (In the query trenches. Not for real. Ew.)


Everything I was obsessed with this week.
Because I know you want to know.

1. Sleep. I'm fantasizing about sleep. Whenever I try to sleep, I can't. Not well, anyway.  But I can't exactly take naps during the day. So, it's a vicious cycle. By 8 every night, I'm completely exhausted, and even if I stay in bed till 5, I haven't had nearly enough sleep.

I'm actually wondering if there are resorts or spas or something where I can just spend the whole weekend in a sensory deprivation chamber. Or maybe drugged. Or perpetually drunk. Or....Well, anyway. A girl can [day]dream.

IMG_0499 by Leigh Ann Kopans (the Littlest Birds Photography), via Flickr
For the trouble of listening to me whine, here is a sleeping puppy. 
Who said reading this blog was fruitless, huh?

2. "Sinner's Sonnet" by Andrew Whitman

This song came up on Spotify and, God help me, it just SOUNDED like Elias (the boyfriend from my querying MS) to me. A little sad and a little epic but mostly pretty chill and sweet. And then I decided that if I ever do write TWO, it'll be in his viewpoint. And then I actually started thinking about what the plot of Two would be and ignoring Chrome. And then...

Urgh. Yeah. Just blame this song. Which I'm still playing over and over and over and over...

3. Crushed Ice.
My obsession with fountain soda, I've decided, actually just boils down to my obsession with the ICE INSIDE the fountain soda.

I bought an ice crusher yesterday. I didn't bother to do the math about how many times I'd have to buy a fountain drink for it to pay for itself. I just...yeah. Obsessed.

Aaaaand the WiP.

Here's a snip I wrote LAST week about when Havah gets knocked out while visiting the Iver. Oops.

“She’s no princess.” The girl repeated. "You know they only care about Laila.” She spat the name out like a curse. An abomination.

It was true. They did only care about Laila.

Would anyone care about her? Would anyone even come for her?

“Fine. Who will take her?”

This could not be happening. They could not be taking her outside the dome. She would die, surely, in an instant. She would suffocate within mintues in that thick, black air.

Her arm trembled, loosely, like one of the bions’ bands that let the cold metal of their joints move. She pushed it up, moving her body from the ground. Her head fought the upward motion, begged to pull her body down with every throb of her heart.

She clutched at her own arm, right above the compact metal box that had just taken the bions down in an instant.

“She wakes,” The girl whispered, drawing close to her.

“Yes, and reaches for her EMP.” The man, his eyes black, crossed to her. The undercurrent of the child’s cries still moved through the air, surrounding Havah, pillowing her head and covering the coating of liquid that flooded it.

“Will you kill us, too, Citier? Would you have our bodies scattered on the ground like those bions?”

The man leaned in and snarled in her ear. “The difference is that our bodies bleed. We’d dirty your shiny clothing.”

Havah moaned, and hot liquid metal tears streamed from her eyes.

“Mar,” the girl murmured, “What if she is someone? Someone from the palace? Besides, look at her. She fears.”

“Not as much as we do,” he whispered, looking back over his shoulder. “She cannot. It’s impossible. She doesn’t know life in this Currentblasted undgerground.”

With that, he raised his elbow, and brought it crashing back against the side of Havah’s head.

Then there was no shine, no vision, no concrete. Nothing heavy, nothing light. Nothing but black.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Different Story, Part 2

First, I want to thank you all for all your encouraging comments on Monday's post. I really was just grappling with the strange feeling of confidence in my work - but you all heard my worry, and sent me support, and I REALLY appreciate that. Really.

Now, for today's post.

A few weeks ago, I told you about coming to peace with my WiP, CHROME, being a different story. It might take longer to write, and be a fundamentally different process. And that has to be okay.

Even though I had already admitted the stark difference of the book to myself, when I hit about 10-15K words on I realized another something that felt quite strange,  a sense of the book itself that has taken me some time to grow into:

No one's screaming for futuristic sci-fi retellings of Bible stories.
So, I have no idea if this concept, or genre, or whatever it is, is marketable at all. 
A funny thing happened when I realized that I can't realistically expect this book to go anywhere.
 (Given that I don't know whether people actually WANT books like this, I mean.)

I didn't stop writing the book.
After all, I don't have an agent to recommend that I write only What's Marketable.
(Though if I were to get The Email, you know, TODAY, I would drop Chrome like a bad habit and work on WHATEVER YOU WANT DREAM AGENT. Do you hear me???)

So, instead of thinking about querying CHROME and getting all hopeful and excited....
I think about querying and shrug my shoulders.

Saying "I don't care" is too...vague of a statement.
I care enough to write it well, to send it to CPs, to revise revise revise and shine and spit-polish.
(That's my plan, anyway - I'm still drafting.)
And I sure as heck am going to write a query that makes it sound as marketable as possible.
In other words - I'm going to try, really, really hard, to get this book to sell.

But if it doesn't? That'll be okay. And it's the first time I could really, truthfully say that about a WiP.

And I think that's because this story is mine. All mine. I want to be proud of it, but....
And if no one else loves it, that won't make me love it any less.
No (or minimal) potential for heartbreak or resentment = NO FEAR.

I wish I could query (and write) all my projects like this - fearlessly. It feels good, somehow.
(But I really, really do want to write something that attracts an agent and, please God, a publisher. Someday. I'm just not expecting this to be the book to do it.)

What about you, sweet readers? Have you ever poured your writer's heart and soul into a piece that you knew, from the outset, you were just writing for yourself? One that might sell, sure, but who really knows? How did it feel?

Monday, March 26, 2012


Okay, sweet readers. I'm not usually a sap. At least, I like to think I'm not.
So, apologies in advance for this post.

I've been having kind of a weird experience with my querying novel, ONE, and I'm trying to figure out exactly what it is.

I'm having trouble letting it go. Like, really, really feeling okay with whatever happens to it.

I don't know if it has something to do with my rising number of (form) rejections - 38 to date - or the dwindling number of agents remaining on my "to-query" list.
I don't know if it's because I somehow keep navigating back to the playlist for the MS on Spotify - like, once, twice a week. (I know. It's BAD.)

With my first MS, The Travelers, I remember adjusting pretty quickly to the idea that it'd get put in the drawer. It took me a couple weeks, yeah, but even I could pick out some things that people might not like about the poor sweet thing. Plus, it was my first. Everyone knows firsts don't get published.

I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and started writing again. And, in six sweet months, out came a shined-up version of ONE.

I followed (most of) the YA "rules" - I wrote it in first person (first person present even!), I didn't include any love triangles, or main characters with red hair, there's no sex, not a whole lot of swearing, no preaching (of course,) no snark for snark's sake. There's no insta-love (after the second revision,) or insta-friends, or unflawed heroine. There are no absent parents, dead or otherwise, and no crushes from the best friend. It's not too long, it's not too short, it's in a genre that all the agents seem to be asking for.

Also, it's a good story. I think.

I revised and re-revised and re-re-revised and re-re-RE-revised the query.

The only thing left to think I did wrong is the writing itself.

Now, normally I'm pretty good at self-deprecation. For real. Ask my CPs.  I'll tell you any day I'm unattractive, or a bad friend, or a lazy mother. Definitely I assume myself dense a lot of times, and quite easily too.

I'll even tell you that what I wrote sucks.

Except, this time when I try to tell myself that?
That it must be the book, the whole darn thing, that's wrong?
I can't make myself believe it.
Well, I can. But only, like, 70%.
And that's not enough.

See, sweet readers,
- and if it was possible to think this thought in a whisper, I would - 
I think I believe in this MS.

I don't know why I think it should be pulled out of the slush over all the, well, SLUSH.
(In fact, I feel like a jerk even saying that.)

But....I do.

I don't know what this means. Right now, I don't think it means that I'll self publish the thing. But I also don't think I'll give up. In fact, even though I know it makes absolutely zero sense, I kind of feel like starting on TWO (yes, that's what the sequel would be called, no, I'm not kidding) after my current WiP starts querying.

 Is this normal? Am I not humble enough, or does this weird, unshakable belief in my work mean that I'm finally becoming A Real Writer?

Do you guys feel this way about some MS of yours, drawered, or querying, or in progress?

What do I do?
Do I try to get over it?
 Do I keep believing, but keep the belief tucked in the corner of my mind, where it occasionally floods me with longing, or sadness, or regret, even though there's nothing I think I could have done differently?
Or do I say, "Screw It, I'll do anything to pub this story," even after of 100% rejections, even with the voice in my ear saying, "Self publishing is for people who could get an agent, not people who couldn't?"

Your input greatly appreciated - right now, I'm vacillating between feeling silly and convicted, and it's an odd place to be.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Obsessions: Rita's, Pedicures, and Snow White and the Huntsman

Oh, readers. Thank you so much for all your beautiful comments on my post from Monday. It's been a rough week and I haven't replied to them all yet, but...thank you. I just want to hug all of you.

Figuratively, I mean. I actually don't want anyone touching me unless it's a masseuse or my (soon-to-be) newborn baby.

See, I'm one of those ladies who has "false" labor for weeks and weeks before the kid actually arrives. But there's not much false about it. So. For the next four weeks, until I can evict the child with IV medication, I'm going to be dealing with some pretty serious pain and generally being in the biggest MOOD ever.

This is the kind of thing that makes you nostalgic for the 1950s, where they just loaded a lady up with sleeping pills and narcotics and a month later, she had a baby.

I am (mostly) not kidding.

But still. It's only four weeks, and Mood or no Mood, life doesn't stop, right? Which makes it particularly lame that I haven't written anything since the Word War on Monday night. L-A-M-E. And to think I wanted to hit 35K this week. Hell, I didn't even BLOG on Wednesday. And I didn't because of...what? Back pain? Swollenness? Exhaustion? Puh-lease. Katniss would probably roll her eyes and spit at  me, and then shoot me straight in the heart with an arrow because I was taking up all the good air.

(As you may be able to tell, I could use a good drill sergeant right now. Seriously, kick my butt. Leave your application in the comments, pleaseandthankyou.)

Ah well. Without further ado...

Everything I was obsessed with this week. 
Because I know you want to know.

1. Pedicures.
It could be because the only shoes that fit on my feet are flip-flops, it could be the inevitable hospital stay in my near future, but either one of those situations makes me terrified of gross feet. I'm doing a self-pedi a week. Unfortunately, I think the Hunger Games colors are not the most gorgeous for Spring-and-summer toes, so I'm using bright pinks and oranges and feeling generally delighted about the state of my toes' grooming, no matter how much they resemble tiny, tiny sausages.

2. Rita's Italian Ice
The first day of Spring was Tuesday, and as always, my beloved Rita's gave away free Italian ices.
This year in the 614, instead of being 50 degrees and rainy, and consequently deserted, like it would be on any other year, it was 85 degrees and PACKED with people wanting some free ice. I know it was tough on the guys working the counter, but heck if I'm not more in love with Rita's than ever after getting it for free on that hot, hot day.

3. Snow White and the Huntsman extended trailer.
Okay, seriously? I'm psyched for two movies this summer. Spiderman, and this. I watched this whole extended trailer with my mouth hanging open. Charlize Theron is TERRIFYING. Heck, Kristen Steward is terrifying.

 And Chris Hemsworth is...well...he's Chris Hemsworth. Thank the Lord in heaven.

That's it for me this week! I'm posting this from the office, so no Scriv, so no WiP snippet, but I'm hopping to slap one up here later, because yes, I did write a few K.

Now it's your turn! What were YOU obsessed with this week?

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Invincible Spring

So. I'm not what you might call the most cheerful person.

I'm a pragmatist. An acute one, even. Which means that this whole crazy publishing business can make me kind of...well...crazy.

There's no right way to write, or get critique, or revise. (No. There isn't.)
There's no one perfect path to being published.
There's no way to know whether the steps you're taking are moving you one step forward or two steps back.

It's true. Frustrating, maddening, terrifying. And true.

If you're used to figuring out how well you're doing by grades, or employer evaluations, or getting a raise...
Dear writer friend, you're going to have to find a different way to gauge your progress, and your worth.
More than that, and especially if you're a pragmatist like me, and you watch this whole writing-and-querying thing go down for awhile, and realize the true subjectivity at work behind everything -
you're going to have to find a way to keep yourself afloat.

I'm still not sure whether I have.
But I do know that I've stopped caring so much about whether and when I get published.

I know. That sounds stupid. Because of course I care, right? I mean, I'm still querying, still working my butt off, still plowing through that new WiP's first draft (one third of the way done as of this weekend, thankyouverymuch.)

Yeah. I care. But I kind of...don't anymore. I want my writing to make me happy. I want it to make other people happy, too, of course. But the reason I started wasn't to hold a shiny hardback or to snag a three-book deal or to have featured advertising on Goodreads or to be a guest on a talk show.

Anyway. Though this might sound depressing to you, and though it has no solid conclusion...somehow, over the last week, I feel better. That's not to say I won't feel worse in a week, or randomly shed a tear over my MS's playlist. That story's still a part of me - always will be, I think. (Seasoned writers, am I right?) But there's something in me saying that even if this book, and the next one, and the seven after that end up in a's not the end.

(Not that I know where the end is.)

Thanks for bearing with me in this moment of introspection. I don't know what I'm really saying. And I don't think I have to. Just...I'm surprised, is all. Surprised that, in the midst of the query trenches, I feel okay.

And besides, Spring is just around the corner. Right? 

It has to be.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Obsessions: Yo-Yo Ma, Blogging Ahead, and Peeta's Bread

Happy Friday, sweet readers!  

It's actually been a pretty decent week! I mean, I'm still in the query trenches, but I didn't have to eat any trench rats this week (translation: nothing made me cry) so we're calling that a WIN.

In less pleasant news, my ankles are the size of my head.

The upshot is that I pretty much have to sit on the couch with my feet up at the end of the day. Which means my WiP did not suffer for word-count this week.  Another WIN.

Anyway. Enough about me. Let's get on with talking about my obsessions.
(I know, I know. Self-centered, etc. But it's my blog, you see?)

Everything I was obsessed with this week. 
Because I know you want to know. 

1. Yo-Yo Ma. Very little makes me emotional, music-wise. The things that most get to me are my MS's playlists (duh) and then artists like Yo-Yo Ma, who is an unquestionable MASTER in his field, and plays so beautifully.

His treatment of Bach's cello suites is absolutely astounding, and definitely the music I listen to when I need that weird mix of neutral, calming, and energizing, all at the same time.

But, you guys. There's MORE. Watch this video of him playing. He's an expert, yeah, but check out how HARD he works to nail a piece that he's played a kajillion times - a piece that he's famous for. You can just tell that he is trying so hard to get better - AS IF HE COULD GET BETTER - each and every time.

This is inspirational, y'all. I only hope that I work this hard at everything I write.

2. Blogging-in-Advance. Probably about a month from now I'll need to take a short hiatus (a few weeks at least) from blogging. I'd like to continue to post at least twice a week. Lord knows I have a pile of drafts sitting on my dashboard, but they need to be finished and shined up before I can post them.

Also: I'm looking for guest posts. Especially from those of you who are my favorites. You know who you are. Or even IDEAS for posts I should write. No, seriously. I'm obsessed with getting a backlog done so I can just hit "publish."

Thanks. *kiss kiss*

3. Peeta's bread. Wisconsin baking bestie Amanda Stein, who runs The Challah Blog, is just as in love with The Hunger Games as I am. (Not just as in love with PEETA, mind. No one loves Peeta as much as I do. Seriously. You may think you do, but you don't. Step off.) 

Anyway. She invented a recipe for Peeta's bread - you know - the kind he burned on purpose to give to Katniss so that he could save her life and then....*sigh*

Anyway. I made some. A couple batches, actually. Want a loaf? I will trade one for a guest blog.
 (*kiss kiss*)

And last but not least, Chrome. Chessie shamed me in a word war on Wednesday - like, cleaned the internet's floor with me, and it's DIRTY down there - so I figure might as well show something for it.

Here's a part of a scene from when Havah visits the Iver, who live underneath Chrome City.

An Iver answered the door. Her clothing looked like a sack - brown and loose and tied with a sort of makeshift belt. Her hair, wiry and dark, was cropped short, like all the peoples’ seemed to be down here. Men and women, the same. 
She peered out the door, and a sheen of sweat coated her brow. Havah grimaced. There was an odd, unclean sort of smell coming from inside the little room. Sweat, and something else. Something warm, something heavy.
“Here for a routine transgression check,” the bionGuard barked at the woman.
Havah swore the woman’s lower lip trembled. “Yes,” she said softly, “of course,” and stepped backward inside.
She stared down at the ground as she gestured toward the tiny, dimly-lit room. There was a single table, three chairs, and a wide white mat on a slightly elevated surface in the corner.
“Do you…live here?” Havah asked.
The woman gave her a strange look, then a curt nod. It seemed to Havah that she didn’t breathe. That she was holding a space open with her silence. Like she was waiting for something.
Just as a bionGuard looked at the woman and said, “Thank you, Iver 3476,” A strange, high sound pierced the air.
The bionguard stopped in its tracks, and the Iver woman clapped a hand over her mouth. Her body heaved with a silent sob.
The high sound crested through the air, again, longer. Coming from nowhere.
The bionguard looked at the Iver woman, then strode straight to her cupboard, snapped the lock off, and flung open the door.
Inside stood a wide-eyed child, the space under its nose glistening with something wet. Its eyes bugged wide, as it stared at the bionguard. The child reached up a chubby hand, strangely stuck to a spindly arm, as if to touch the bion’s sleek silver face.
The bionGuard crouched down to the child’s eye level. A blue light emanated from its eyes, sweeping down over the child’s body. A scan.
“Female,” the bion announced. The Iver woman let out a keening wail and fell to her knees on the concrete floor beside Havah.

Yikkkkkes. I'll tell you right now - this isn't going to end well for anyone.  (Thanks for reading!)

Okay, sweet readers. Your turn - What were YOU obsessed with this week?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why I Love Writing "Scenes" (You Know Which Ones I Mean)

***PSA - I know I've been a bit of a Debbie Downer with the whole Trying to Get Published thing. I don't like it either. Accept my apology, sweet readers? I'm going to try my darndest to blog most about what makes me most happy - actual writing
Maybe some good karma will flow from my outbox along with my queries. Now, on with the post.***

So. Let's say you're having a bad writing day.
We all have 'em.

Maybe you've just discovered a plot hole you just can't figure out how to fill.
Maybe your dialogue sounds wooden no matter what you do.
Maybe you can't, for the life of you, find this character's voice.

What do you do?

Well, conventional wisdom would tell you to fill out a character worksheet.
Or do some freewriting. Or maybe outline a little more, or brainstorm with CPs.

That's all well and good, but most writers I know?

They write a kissing scene. 
(Or something a little more...intense. You know what I mean.)

As we've all heard me whine, I've consistently hit one stumbling block with Chrome - not hearing the main character's voice.

In fact, as I was whining to one of my saintly, patient CPs, I was only hearing Havah's voice when she was with (and, um, with) her boyfriend.

So I wrote those scenes. (And some Scenes, too.)
And I loved writing them.
And I loved the characters.
And I felt joy in working on the story.

And then?
I realized why:

I "heard" Havah so well when she was with her boyfriend because that's when she is most open, most vulnerable.
 That's when her soul is most laid bare.
 She doesn't have any defenses up, she's not putting on any masks.
She's not trying to be someone she's not.

It's at those times when she's most honest with herself.
And THAT'S WHY it's at those times when I can hear her most clearly.

And then I remembered.
For all my sugar-coated memories about how easy it was to come by Merrin's voice in ONE....
it's probably because the very first scene I ever wrote from that book was when she and her boyfriend fly, and then make out in a cornfield.

So, yeah.
If you have writer's block? Maybe you should write a Scene.
And maybe it doesn't mean you're just a dirty mind masquerading as a writer.
(Not all the time, anyway.)

Okay, sweet readers of a writerly-persuasion, fess up - do you love writing Scenes? (you know the ones I mean.) Do you make such elaborate excuses for yourselves?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Giving It the Best Chance

If you're a regular reader, you witnessed my epic whining-about-whining-about-querying post from last week. (And if you're not a regular reader, just count your lucky stars you missed it.)

The conclusion of said post was this: I have to stop being so invested in whether ONE, or any of my stuff, for that matter, gets published. I have to forget how much I love it, so that every rejection doesn't break my heart.

My ruthless sweet and brilliant CPs were quick to call me out in the comments - I can't deny how much I love the goshdarn thing. Heck - even the playlist makes me cry sometimes.

Yep. Sure does.

So. While I do still need to stop being quite so invested in whether any of my stuff gets pubbed, I now realize that the only other option is NOT to let the query flurries run out, shrug my shoulders, and say, "eh."
I've got to give it the best chance I can.

That means writing a kick-butt query.
Then re-writing it.
Then re-re-writing it.
*eye twitch*

I had a pretty pared-down, simple query, which wasn't doing anything stellar for the MS. (a sprinkle of requests, under 10%)
Marieke got out her literary syringe and injected the whole darn thing with voice and filled it out a little (still under 250 words, don't worry.)
Then my saintly friend Helene stripped it back down to something more simplistic.

I've had feedback from CPs, agenteds, and Real Live Agents that the voicey query looks good.

(And, as we were so helpfully reminded last week, if the problem isn't my query, it's my MS - duh - and I'm just really not mentally prepared for that possibility just yet.)

So. Should I keep querying with it? My req. rate on it is....well, it's only been out 11 days, and I've only heard back from four or five of those. All form Rs, though. But I do LOVE this query.

Or should I pare it down a'la Helene? Which is also a solid query but way less voicey?

What do you think?*
(Thanks in advance. You all are angels. *kiss kiss*)
*Also! I'm in good company. Please run over to Gina's and Jenny's blogs, where they're asking for query advice today, too.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey can’t fly to save her life, but she is a freaking amazing floater. Too bad, because in a world where almost everyone else is a Super, with at least two powers, or a Normal, with none, being a One is the worst kind of in-between.

When Merrin is shipped off to Normal High—excuse her, Nelson High—all she wants is to land an internship at the Biotech Hub.  If she can get close enough to their research on the manifestations of superpowers, she might finally figure out how to fix herself.

But then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin’s over the moon. She’s unraveling the secrets of Ones—way beyond AP Chemistry—Elias is a seriously good kisser, and her mad skills in chem class even land her a spot on the Hub’s internship short list. But when Elias disappears, along with her bratty water-walking brothers, the Hub’s interest turns lethal. The thought of crashing has never been scarier, because if Merrin fights back, she has to abandon her dreams of ever flying solo—of ever being more than a One.

ONE is a work of YA Science Fiction complete at 76,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Obsessions: Nesting, Inspirational Quotes, and Matzah Crack

You guys. It has been one helluva week. Monday and Tuesday David was out of town for a last-minute business trip (which means I spent those days singlehandedly herding three insane rabid chipmunks our three adorable children in and out of clothes, cars, mealtimes, bathtubs, pajamas, and beds,) Wednesday we threw a Purim celebration at work (so so so much fun but holy hell, exhausting) yesterday was my scullery maid day, and tonight I run one of the most fun Friday nights of the quarter - the one where our stellar a'capella group performs - at work (again, extra fun, but totally exhausting.) And tomorrow I have to go buy a new car. (Because apparently rabid chipmunks require carseats - one for each of them - to keep them safe on the road, or something. And our current car only has space for three.)

So guess how much writing got done this week.

Anyhoo. Here we go.

Everything I was obsessed with this week.
Because I know you want to know.

1. Nesting. It's cheesy, but true. When you have three at home already, nesting is less "Holy crud I have to get All The Things clean and organized," and more "How am I going to plan for my home not to sink into a pit of condemn-able filth while I'm recovering and keeping a 7-pound helpless infant human alive?"

So. I've been buying lots of paper towels and Clorox wipes, paper plates and napkins (all items I'm normally morally opposed to buying,) microwavable and ready-to-eat food, and months worth of any other supplies we might need.

Also, I'm hiring a cleaning lady, because my hips literally quit on me in the middle of Scullery Maid Day yesterday.

Also, I'm making phonecalls and prepping paperwork so I can buy this car tomorrow. Which is a bit stressful.*

* understatement of the century

2. Reading inspirational quotes and crying. 
It's probably a combination of extra hormones (gross, yeah, but OMG REAL.) and not getting hardly anything done writing-wise, whether WiP or CP related (I'm so, so so SO sorry my CP loves, I swear I have notes and they just need to be transferred and attached to an email and...*weeps*)

 but I really, really, REALLY need some inspiration these days.
And then, you know, because I have so much free time, I make some of the quotes pretty in Photoshop. Because that's totally the same of doing PRODUCTIVE writing things.*
*I know it's not.

3. Matzah Crack. In the last hour of Purim every year, I go into Passover Obsession Mode. Since Passover starts almost exactly a month after Purim, it's part of the Jewish household manager psyche - we start planning cooking and cleaning, and thinking about matzah. Lots of matzah.

And, if you're me, you start thinking about toffee-and-chocolate covered matzah at that point. And then you can't stop thinking about it. And then you make it.
chocolate toffee crack(ers)
You will eat the batch in about 5 hours.
It will be the first batch of about a bajillion.

You need 4 pieces of matzah, 2 sticks of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and chocolate chips.
(Or you need to be my friend, and ask me for some.)
Here's the recipe. 
You. Are. Welcome.

Aaaand last but not least - The WiP. Because, hell, I at least wrote SOMETHING.

Here's a convo between Sarra and Mar. They are sister and brother, and they're Iver slaves. Mar runs the underground revolution. Sarra's just trying to keep little girls alive.

“What shine are you feeding them, Mar? What hope that we’ll ever get out of here?”
“It’s no shine, Sarra. You said it yourself. It’s the Current. We’ve built the ship, and the Current will break it through the Dome.”
“Assuming the Current even still exists - it's going to keep us alive? In that air? What are you even thinking?”
“The air out there isn’t what you think, Sarra. It’s not that bad. It will be harder, but we can live. Nothing can be as bad as this.”
Sarra whirled on Mar, glaring at him. “If you think nothing is as bad as this?” She flung her arms out to the great metal barrels tipping hot orange molten metal into molds, “Then talk to my girls. The little ones, who live in the walls. Who have never even breathed what little fresh air is in this underground. Who…who…” Something wet trickled down her cheek. Mar walked two steps toward her, his experession changing from one of argument to one of concern.
She stepped toward him and buried her face in his shirt. “Who have never known their mothers. Who never will.”
Mar smoothed his hand over her close-cropped hair, and whispered, “Shhhh.’ Over and over again. Like he had when she was a toddler, just a baby really, and Ama had gone into one of her episodes and hadn’t talked to either of them for days. 

Well, that's that! Thanks for reading!

What about you, sweet readers? What were YOU obsessed with this week? I'd love to know.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

I got tagged for this meme by Chessie! And as she points out, I guess this is cool, because I have never been tagged for a meme before. I don't think. Oh, heck. I don't know. Anyway. Here we go.

Here are the meme rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next seven lines as they're written--no cheating!
4. Tag 7 other writers
5. Let them know

Okay! I'm gonna have to use my querying MS, ONE, since my WiP doesn't have things like pages or, you know, ORDER yet.  Ahem.

Here we go!

 It’s because now that he’s gone and kissed me, I might need him for more than flying.
 We sink down, down, down, and by the time my feet touch solid ground again, I’m torn between tackling him in the cornfield and getting away from him as soon as possible.
He looks down at me, smiling a gentle smile that tells me he’d appreciate the tackle. I look at him for one second, two, five, then I open my mouth, and stammer something that doesn’t make sense.
And then I do the only thing that does make sense - I turn around and run home.

Wheeeee! Fun!
Well, that's about it for now!  Thursday is my day off, which is not as fun as it sounds, because really it translates to The Day In Which I Play Scullery Maid. So I've gotta run. But, if you want to play along, consider yourself one of the seven tagged, okay?

Thanks Chessie!  Thanks for reading, sweet readers!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's Not a Science. It's Not Even an Art.

I've been doing a lot of whining lately.

It all  boils down to reading/thinking about, and obsessing too much over, How to Get Published.

See, there are so many helpful blogs and tweeters with advice about How to Succeed at Publishing.

But then, with every rejection, comes the repetition of the word "subjective" and fellow writers' suggestions to revise the pitch, query, or MS according to feedback.

Except...I don't have any feedback. I know that one reason for this is that no agent has time to give me any. And I get that, I really do. (Although, Saints Alive, it does happen - check out my CP Gina's post from today if you're looking for inspiration in that regard.) So I kind of flounder trying to figure out where the weaknesses in my writing are, what I can do to make a book Marketable.

(And when I do get feedback from every lovely person on things like my query, it seems to vary widely, even to conflict fundamentally. Because it's guessed it....SUBJECTIVE.)

See, when you move from being a writer to a writer with a goal of Getting Published, it's easy to start the planning, and the far-thinking, and the "research" that'll help you get there. And, at least for me, there's the sense that we're doing something wrong or right. We get the sense that there are rules to follow, things we can do to get our foot in the door or make the door slam in our faces.

But, after a certain point, (the point at which you're a decent writer and act relatively professionally) I don't really believe in those things anymore.

And how do you know if you're the exception to the rule?
Well, you don't. You can't.
So, as my CPs keep bucking up and reminding me on my endless whining email chains, I might as well keep trying. Keep writing each new book, without worrying about whether the concept is saleable or whether first or third person is more Marketable For YA or the word count is too high for the genre, or the trillions of other things that have been getting under my skin lately. And query my little heart out, the best I can, but don't take it too much to heart. Do my best, of course, but don't let it destroy my love of writing.

Besides, what else am I going to do? Watch TV? Knit? Cook? Clean?!?!?!
No effing way.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Problem with Being A Far Thinker (as a writer)

Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved to know What Was Going to Happen. I would plan my future career and spend hours finding the best colleges to attend and all the classes I would sign up for. I had a strategy mapped out for grad schools, internships, and meeting Mr. Right. I knew how many kids I wanted to have, how far apart they'd be born, where our family would live, and what my work-life balance would look like.

Guess how many of those careful plans actually panned out in the way I imagined?

Yeah. None of them.

Still. Guess what old habit is dying hard in my adult writing life?

Like most of you writers out there, I dream of getting published. I know full well that's never gonna happen unless I work my tush off to get there. Yes, that requires a lot of work and careful planning. I've had self-imposed deadlines for drafting, strategies for sending to CPs, a carefully structured method and schedule for when I would send my queries, and to whom.

Now that the queries for ONE are out, I've started on the next WiP. And, as you may have guessed, I have a plan for when I'll start querying that one.

That's right. I'm planning my query process for a new novel before my currently querying novel is in the drawer.

In some corner of my twisted mind, this all makes sense. I'm allowing One to query  widely, unfettered by any clinginess or obsession from yours truly. More importantly, I'm building an iron, spiky, barbed-wire fence around my heart to protect it in the case that One DOES go in a drawer.  Sounds good, right?

Yeah. Except...not. Why?

My writing life could turn around AT ANY MOMENT.

Between the time I'm typing this blog post and the time it posts, I could get an email from an agent requesting The Call. (Highly unlikely, yeah, but it COULD happen.) It could happen any minute.

And here I am planning query flurries that I might never have to send.

Here's my worry: that being a far thinker keeps me from taking risks, because I'm always driving toward that self-set goal, sometimes without evaluating whether it's the best course. For example, I'm trying to barrel through this draft of Chrome, when maybe I should be overhauling One to make it into a more marketable genre.

(Like, I could make Elias a vampire, and Merrin a vampire hunter.

That's the sane worry, anyway. The insane one is...well...that I'm just insane. I have thoughts (that I frequently share with my CPs, sorry ladies) like, "At what point will I quit writing? MS #5? #7?" and "When should I self-publish?" and "How do I feel about small pubishers?" and "Who's buying the drinks if we all go to SCBWI this year? Will I go only if I'm agented, or only if I'm not agented?"

Are you guys ready to throw me across the room yet? (no hard feelings. Seriously.)

I don't really have a point for this blog post. I just know that sometimes my far-thinking-ness seems totally rational and reasonable, and other times I think, "Wow, I'm a certifiable nutcase." And then I kind of wonder if this far-thinking obsession will ever get me into legit trouble, or just leave me shaking my head at Past Me as per usual.

Sweet readers - Are any of you far-thinkers? How does it affect your writing? Do you do anything to curb it?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Obsessions: Pinterest, Anita Diamant, and Hamantaschen

Happy Friday, everyone! Another week of non-awesome progress on the WiP, which I'm attributing to the 6-week homestretch of hosting this (non-alien, allegedly adorable) parasitic creature. I'm sleeping a lot of hours, but not sleeping very WELL, which is totally destroying my "wake-up-at-4:00-every-morning-and-write-like-a-motherf---er" strategy for getting anything done, you know, EVER. (And let's not even talk about what a cruddy CP I've been.)

It's worth it, I know. It's cool. *weeps*

In other news, I'm calling this week "not bad at all" in the query trenches, which, of course, falls somewhere between "could be worse" and "only slightly anxious."

Let's just continue to keep our fingers, toes, and possibly eyes crossed for good luck for ONE, hmmmm? Thanks.

Yeah, okay. Let's get on with the show.
This week's obsessions are a pretty even balance between super-girly and super-Jewy. You've been warned.

Everything I was obsessed with this week.
Because I know you want to know.

1. Pinterest. Yeah, yeah, it's tired, I know. And to be fair, it's only a minor obsession. I made a board for Chrome, and it always makes me sigh with the pretty. I'm gonna go ahead and recommend it as an amazing tool for all you writers out there who are visual like me.

For example: I found these trees on Pinterest, which are now alllllll over Chrome City:
Trees of Chrome City

2. Anita Diamant. Okay. So, Anita Diamant wrote a bestselling book called THE RED TENT about 13 years ago that was a retelling, or fleshing-out, of a Bible story, which is kind of what I'm trying to do with Chrome (TRT is incredible, by the way, I highly recommend it for those of you who like waaaay historical fiction.) So I'm looking for any interviews, etc, in which she discusses her process. In this video, she basically tells me worry about it?

"If I had known, really, what I was getting into, I wouldn't have had the nerve to do it, because if you mess with the Bible, you're gonna get in trouble."

SO! I heard it from the boss herself. Even though I know a little bit what I'm getting into here -  because, hey, day job - I'm gonna quit overthinking the whole "who will I offend?" aspect of writing Chrome, and just focus on what's important - tell the story. Awesome.

3. Hamantaschen.  It's that time of year - Purim, when Jews dress up in costumes, get a little more sloshed than normal, and eat weird fruit-filled triangular cookies. And they are awesome. I've got a tried-and-true recipe that I couldn't resist making "just one batch" of on Sunday. Or, you know, two. Whatever.


Last but not least - the WiP!  Only a couple thousand words this week, but it's not for lack of inspiration.

Here's an early scene between Havah and Orev, after Havah has left Chrome City.

“Why is this dome that color? It’s so…bright.”
Orev laughed again. “You mean, blue?”
Havah had seen blue - neon strip lights when one of the courtiers’ children had chosen it for a party, or when someone walked by a holotree and it glowed the cold color. But this dome was not cold. The color flowed from rich to light, and something about its still calm brought peace to her heart.
Well, it was either the blue, or the feel of this boy’s skin against hers. 
She reached up a finger and let it brush lightly against one of his. He did not flinch or pull away.
She nodded slowly. “If this is your blue.” 
“Yes, this is blue,” he said, still studying her curiously. “But this is no dome. This is the sky.”
Havah turned her head sideways, letting herself smile a little. “Now you’re telling stories. No one has seen the sky for a thousand years.”
“Then we all live in a story here. Because we work and sleep under it every day.”
Havah gasped. “How? After the wars…”
“The wars were a thousand years ago,” he said, his expression still puzzled. “The sky was scorched…”
“And the air was toxic,” Havah continued. “And there were lighting storms. Yet I am breathing this air and sitting under this…sky…safely.”
“Yes,” Orev smiled. “Yes. It is an amazing planet. With patience, it can heal itself. Amazingly, we survived. The domes helped. But now…we no longer need them. We have to be careful, but we can live under the sky now.”
They sat quietly for an immeasurable moment.
“You are from the City, then," Orev finally said.
“Chrome City. Yes.”
“And you have never been outside the dome?”